Here’s a good way to get students to identify and learn words they don’t know. This strategy differentiates vocabulary without overwhelming students with memorization or belaboring words they may already know. This works best with literary texts that are not content specific, though you can use this strategy with all texts. After you go through this process once (and it usually takes a full class period) it goes pretty quickly afterwards. You will have to keep different vocabulary lists for different periods.
Use the my accompanying Powerpoint presentation (Choosing Good Vocabulary) when teaching this for the first time.