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Lesson Plan

Acquiring New Vocabulary Through Book Discussion Groups

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Acquiring New Vocabulary Through Book Discussion Groups

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time 60 minutes
Lesson Author

Peggy Harper

Mobile, Alabama


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



While reading the book Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco, students identify words that are unfamiliar to them. Working collaboratively in small groups, they discuss the meaning of these new words, using context clues from the text, prior knowledge, and both print and online resources. Students then apply their knowledge of the new vocabulary to further their understanding of the text. With moderate preparation and further research of topic-related resources, this lesson can be modified and reused for other areas of the curriculum.

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Individual Performance and Group Participation Rubric: Use this rubric to evaluate students?individual and group performance during small-group collaborations.

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Harmon, J.M. (1998). Vocabulary teaching and learning in a seventh-grade literature-based classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 41(7), 518-529.

  • As children approach the middle grades and become more proficient in decoding and recognizing known words, vocabulary acquisition focuses more on meaning than recognition (Chall, 1987).

  • Direct instruction is an important aspect of vocabulary acquisition, and relates to reading comprehension in that children integrate new words with their prior knowledge.

  • An important component of vocabulary development is social interactions and interventions in the classroom. Grand conversations (Peterson & Eeds, 1990) about shared readings of literature can include rich discussions about new words and their meanings. Students can find it motivating to work collaboratively to define new words using creative means, such as context clues or drama, and traditional methods, such as a dictionary or other media sources.


Chall, J. (1987). Two vocabularies for reading: Recognition and meaning. In M.G. McKeown, & M.E. Curtis (Eds). The nature of vocabulary acquisition (pp. 7-17). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


Peterson, R., & Eeds, M. (1990). Grand conversations: Literature groups in action. New York: Scholastic.

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