Standard Lesson

Supporting Vocabulary Development with EASE

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 50-minute sessions
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Using Karen Hesse's Come On, Rain, this lesson combines two researched-based approaches to directly teach two academic, three concept, and five robust vocabulary words. The four-step procedure begins by having students Enunciate new words syllable-by-syllable and then blend the word. Next, teachers Associate the word with definitions and examples that students already know. Students then Synthesize the words with other words and concepts that they have already studied and they have the opportunity to demonstrate deep knowledge of the new word. Finally, teachers Emphasize new words in classroom discussions, writing activities, and a variety of other contexts. The routine modeled in this lesson will help teachers and students EASE into meaningful vocabulary instruction throughout the year.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

"Research literature (Nagy & Anderson, 1984; Blachowicz & Fisher, 2000) suggests that teachers use a variety of methods to promote vocabulary acquisition." (Moen, 21) Not surprisingly, teachers and researchers don't always agree on which methods work best. Beck et al. suggest that "a robust approach to vocabulary involves directly explaining the meanings of words along with thought-provoking, playful, and interactive follow-up" (2). They add that "vocabulary work in middle school and high school should allow deeper explorations of language-how language gives meaning and how words mean what they mean" (85). In their vision of best practices, vocabulary is "more rooted to a text and dealt with in a way that both teaches the words and brings enriched understanding to the text" (85).

Marzano's vision of vocabulary instruction has similarities with Beck et al., but while Beck et al. suggest teaching words that students will encounter often and across domains, Marzano recommends teaching subject-specific terms to enhance academic success. He writes that "Beck, McKeown, and Kucan's focus on tier-two words as the appropriate target of vocabulary instruction" is a mistake (88). He stresses that "subject-specific terms are the best target for direct vocabulary instruction" and provides a list of 7,923 subject-specific terms in the appendix of his book. This lesson combines the suggested approaches and extension activities of both research groups.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

A copy of Come On, Rain! By Karen Hesse



  • Select a short and high-interest text to read aloud to students. This lesson uses Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse, but any similar book would be appropriate.

  • Select 10 vocabulary words to explicitly teach in connection to the text. These words could consist of the following:

    • 1–2 words that explain the overall concept or theme of the text

    • 2–3 subject-specific words that you want students to use while discussing the text and generating their own writing

    • 3–5 rich vocabulary words that are found in the text.

  • Create overhead transparencies or other format for sharing word pronunciation and description.

  • Choose a short, current news article for students to analyze in Session Two. See Time for Kids for suggestions.

  • Preview the handout EASE—Summary of Sequence of Instruction to become comfortable with this strategy.

  • Test the Venn Diagram on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • acquire new vocabulary and use it correctly in reading and writing.

  • create definitions and examples for new vocabulary.

  • create similes.


  1. Write the following words on the board or chart paper: anticipate, optimist, pessimist, simile, metaphor, vivid, listless, waver, sway, descend, and sprout.

  2. Using the EASE—Summary of Sequence of Instruction, teach the word anticipate. View the sample transcript to see how it is done.

  3. Continue this process with remaining words.

  4. Show students the cover of Come On, Rain! Ask them what they think the girl is ANTICIPATING. (Possible response is rain.)

  5. Read Come On, Rain! aloud to the class.

  6. Use these questions to generate discussion of the book and understanding of the vocabulary words listed on the board or chart paper.

    • Was Tessie a pessimist or an optimist?

    • What are the verbs the author uses BEFORE the rain comes?

    • What are the verbs the author uses AFTER the rain comes?

    • Compare the images before and after the rain comes.
  7. If desired, share the Five Senses Example with the students so they can see how to record their observations.

  8. Pass out copies of the Five Senses handout, and have students find examples where the author appeals to each of the five senses.


  1. Arrange students in small groups or cooperative pairs.

  2. Give each group a copy of the handout Pessimist or Optimist handout.

  3. Ask students to sort the verbs on the handout into the following categories: Actions of an Optimist, Actions of a Pessimist, or Actions of Either.

  4. Have students use the print or online Venn diagram to organize their responses.

  5. Explain that for each verb students place in a circle on the Venn Diagram, they should write an explanation of why the verb belongs there.

  6. Talk about the choices with the class-which choices present more positive than negative descriptions.

  7. Give each group the short, current news article that you have selected.  A good source is Time for Kids which provides news articles for students to use as you generate class discussion for authentic use of targeted vocabulary.

  8. Ask each group to read article and decide if it is a better example of optimism or pessimism.

Session Three

  1. Review the definition of simile, which was explored in the first session.

  2. Write the following sentence on the board: "I am sizzling like a hot potato." Alternately, if enough copies of the book are available, direct to students to the page 3 of Come On, Rain! and read the sentence aloud.

  3. Explain that although the "I" in the sentence is being compared to a hot potato, it is "sizzling" that makes the simile vivid for the reader.

  4. Show them that the sentence "I am like a hot potato" is not as vivid as the sentence "I am sizzling like a hot potato."

  5. Show students a second simile in the book Come On, Rain!: "Her long legs, like two brown string beans, sprout from her shorts."

  6. Let students work in small groups or pairs to decide what is being compared and what word gives the simile life.

  7. Share a third simile in the book (or have students find it if copies are available): " . . . while the music from Miz Glick's phonograph shimmies and sparkles and streaks like night lightning."

  8. Ask students to explain what is being compared and which words make the simile come alive or vivid.

  9. For additional practice, pass out copies of the handout Least Vivid to Most Vivid and ask students to look at word choice.

  10. Allow students to create their own similes, using the vocabulary words as idea starters. Model a few of your own first.

  11. Continue these strategies with the students as additional texts and new vocabulary are introduced.


  • Invite students to revise and edit the similes they have found and created in this lesson into poems. As they prepare their writing, ask students to underline any word they used from the current vocabulary study. Encourage students to delete the words look, hear, taste, smell, and feel. Suggest they think of other ways to "Come On" to begin their writing.

  • To further explore vocabulary, invite the students to identify vivid verbs that they can use in future descriptive writing. Ask students to locate at least one verb to dissect on a Word Jar Slip for homework. Distribute a Word Jar Slip to each student. Choose a word to use as an example. After their first use of the Word Jar, ask students to bring in several Word Jar Slips per week. Weekly, at the start or end of a class, choose several Word Jar Slips to share with the class. You will be surprised how many new and powerful words you are adding to your students' vocabulary.

  • Using the Word Map, students can further explore vocabulary words and make additional connections.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Encourage or require students to use the vocabulary words that the class explores in their writing. Students can underline or otherwise highlight these words in their texts so that you can easily see their use and check the passages for student comprehension. After students have used vocabulary words successfully in their writing, ask them to complete Writer’s Self-assessment Questions to help gauge their understanding of the words and engagement with the process:

  1. What is the most vivid part of the writing you just completed? Explain.

  2. What part of your writing would you describe as listless?

  3. Did you use a simile or metaphor in your writing? What is it? If you did not, create a simile or metaphor to include now.

  4. After this lesson, are you pessimistic or optimistic about the kind of work you will do in this class? Explain.


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