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Create a Personalized Dictionary


ELA: Reading All Ages Strategy


Verbal Reasoning Verbal Memory

Create a Personalized Dictionary

If your student's weaker vocabulary is interfering with reading comprehension

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students can create a personalized dictionary of unfamiliar words they encounter while reading, during homework, in conversation, etc. so they have new vocabulary in one place they can refer back to and study.
  2. Teacher Takeaways: Have students create a notebook or even stapled sheets of lined paper as their personal dictionary. Students should keep it easily accessible so they can jot down unfamiliar words as they encounter them in class discussion, or while reading independently. With the student(s), agree on the appropriate time to look up and write down the definition of these words, perhaps in the last few minutes of class.
  3. Teacher Notes: Encourage repeated use of the words in the personal dictionary. For example, challenge students to use a new word in their work or conversation three times that day. Note students' new words and make a point of using those words in conversation. The more repetition and varied context, the more likely the student will remember the word and use it on his own.

*print* Student Activity: Create Your Personalized Dictionary

  1. Use a journal or notebook to create your own dictionary for unfamiliar words you come across in reading
  2. Keep it easily accessible and jot down words as you hear or read them
  3. Look up the definition and write it down. Try to put the definition in your own words to help you remember it better
  4. Use the words from your dictionary in conversations or in your writing. Aim for 3 times in a day. The more you use the word, the more likely you will remember it

Why It Works? (the Science Of Learning!)

Vocabulary is highly correlated with reading comprehension skills. Research shows that students must experience new words at least six different times and in a variety of contexts to commit words to long-term memory. Many students are likely to skip over unfamiliar words and might never learn them without a structured approach to identifying, defining and practicing new words.

Best-suited for students with weaker: Long-term Memory, Working Memory (Source: Digital Promise Learner Variability Project)