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Using Vocabulary Words in Sentences

Standards: W1, W2, L1, L2, L3, L4, L6 

Sentence Stems

Adapted from Bringing Words to Life, 80-81.

Teachers often assign students to write sentences that include a solid context clue for vocabulary words. These sentences provide the raw material for sentence stems. Remove the context clues from the most effective sentences and reassign the sentence stems for completion. For example, these sentence stems were constructed from sentences written by grade 10 RHS students who had been assigned to write sentences using character vocabulary words.

Directions: Complete these sentence stems by adding words and phrases that vividly explain the meaning of the vocabulary words in bold.

1.     Some consumers are so gullible and naïve that they...

2.     Sometimes the news media can be very manipulative; for example,...

3.     One example in history of a treacherous dictator is _______________________, who...

4.     I feel anxious every time I...

5.     Many people are skeptical of _____________________ because...


Cloze / Fill-in-the-Blank Passages

Adapted from Janet Allen, “Mastering the Art of Effective Vocabulary Instruction,” (87-104).

Select a short but challenging passage from an assigned text, leaving out words you want students to put in the context of their reading. Provide a word bank and have them work in pairs or small groups so they can discuss the words and the contexts. Leave the first paragraph intact to provide a foundation for the paragraphs that are incomplete. This can be done before or during the reading of the text. Try filling in this passage from page 121 of Oh, Yuck!

The Poop on Poop

You have just eaten a wonderful dinner. A thick, juicy cheeseburger, a tall glass of milk, a salad (okay, your parents made you eat that part), and a hunk of watermelon for dessert.

            From the moment that _________________________ touches your tongue,

 your ___________________________ starts breaking it _________________ 

into smaller and smaller pieces so that it can get to the parts it needs – the proteins, the

 _______________, and _____________________ that ___________________

 your engines. Whatever’s left over after that has got to get 



Possible Sentences

From Janet Allen, “Mastering the Art of Effective Vocabulary Instruction,” 99.

This activity challenges students to choose two or more of the key vocabulary words from a text or unit of study and write sentences that predict “how they think those words will be used in the context of their reading.” After students read the text in pairs or small groups, they revise their possible sentences based on their new understanding of the words. For a helpful example, view these Possible Sentences: The Digestive System from Janet Allen’s book.