Lesson: Vocabulary Walks

Explicit Support & Scaffolding for English Learners:

This strategy allows individual students or a pair of students to become the “expert others” about a specific set of vocabulary words. Students create a small poster for their selected vocabulary words. As they write the word, define it, add an illustration, list the cognate (if possible) and create examples and non-examples, they are increasing their familiarity and experience with the word. This experience makes academic vocabulary more accessible; thereby, helping to fulfill the goal of supporting students’ academic achievement.

The materials (such as the charts & graphic organizers) provide specific resources for English Language Learners to be able to access the academic content matter. It is critical to make these materials available during any unit. The class completes the work in pairs and as a whole group so there is adequate time for demonstration, modeling, and discussion of key words. In addition, the materials listed below are created by students and used as scaffolds throughout the lesson.


Students will write (with the correct spelling), define, and draw an illustration for a specific set of vocabulary words.

Common Core Standards


  1. Teacher- selected vocabulary words from the Word Bank Lists of Words. The teacher can select a list of 20 words from Subjects in the sidebar to the right.
  2. High-Power Vocabulary Words:  This High-Power Word List needs to be created during the unit on large chart paper. It is hung in the classroom throughout the unit of study. It must contain the correctly spelled vocabulary words and a definition. It can also contain an illustration of the word if possible. Additionally, in classrooms with lots of English Language Learners, it is helpful to have the cognates listed on the chart of High-Power Words.
  3. Templates of the Vocabulary Walk Graphic Organizer to support students in going through the Vocabulary Walks. This Graphic_Organizer will list the High-Power Words and as students go through the Vocabulary Walk, they will fill in the Graphic Organizer providing a definition, illustration, cognate, and ways of remembering the words.
  4. Construction, poster or card stock paper (ideally the paper should be no smaller than 8 ½ x 11)
  5. Markers
  6. Student dictionaries and other curricular resource materials that list words and their definitions.

Brief Description:

Students create and utilize a list of powerful, content-specific words that describe the concepts of the unit of study.


Teaching Tip

  • For the Vocabulary Walk, use one of the Word Lists that contains no more than 20 words.
  • Make sure the students’ writing is large and clear enough for everyone to see.
  • Make sure that the poster or card stock paper is no smaller than 8 ½ x 11 so that the words and illustrations are clearly visible as students move around the room.
  • Make sure to have student-friendly dictionaries available.

Vocabulary Lesson

  1. Each pair of students is given a card with one of the vocabulary words from the list of 20 words written on it. You can either select the words for specific students or have the students select the words depending upon:
    • Your students’ ability levels
    • The subject matter
    • High impact vs. low impact words [High impact words are those that are critical to understanding the subject mater. Low-impact words are not as critical.]
  2. Using large construction, poster or card stock paper and colorful markers, students:
    • write the word
    • define it
    • label it (if applicable)
    • add an illustration
    • list the cognate (if possible)
    • write a sentence using the word
    • create examples and non-examples (if appropriate)
  3. Students post their vocabulary words on walls or bulletin boards so that they can walk   around the room observing the word posters.
    This walk can be called the _______________________  Walk.
    …………………………………….(Title of Theme/Subject/Unit)
  4. Students go through the __________________ Walk and fill out a Graphic_Organizer  with their partner. The Graphic Organizer will change depending on what the teacher wants the students to remember. It will always have a column for the word and a definition. However, the other columns might change depending on the goals of the lesson. The teacher might want students to list their vocabulary word, a definition, a labeled illustration (if possible), the cognate (if applicable), examples and non-examples, and finally ideas about how to remember the vocabulary word.
  5. In a class discussion, review any new vocabulary that was discussed that relates to the unit of study. Pay specific attention to ways to remember the vocabulary words. Add any new vocabulary words to the list of High-Power __________________________ Words.
    (Title of Theme/Subject/Unit)
  6. It is important to maintain the High-Power Word List so that students have a consistent reference for all the vocabulary and concepts that are included in any given unit.
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