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Lesson Plan

Supporting Vocabulary Development with EASE

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Supporting Vocabulary Development with EASE

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Bernadette Lambert


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



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.

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Venn Diagram: Use this online tool to organize ideas for a compare and contrast essay, or other comparison and contrast activities.

EASE—Summary of Sequence of Instruction: This printable sheet outlines the basic steps in using EASE to teach new vocabulary.

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"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

Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford.


Marzano, R. 2004. Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


Moen, Christine Boardman. "Bringing Words to Life and into the Lives of Middle School Students." Voices from the Middle 15.1 (September 2007): 20-26.

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