As teachers, we must constantly make decisions about what vocabulary words to teach our students. Often, this is based on assumptions of what they know and don’t know. The result? Precious time lost teaching words they already understand. Or, even worse, failing to teach to those students who are already struggling essential words—such as “analyze” or “comprehend” or “cite”—used in the classroom every day. For these students, lacking such a vocabulary foundation will make further development in reading and writing virtually impossible.
So how do you determine what vocabulary to teach?
This resource can serve as your instructional compass. Using the vocabulary inventory, students self-report their level of understanding of each word on a scale of 1 to 4; 1 for words they have never encountered before, and up to 4 for words they know so well, they can use them in a sentence. It will enable you to assess not only the words your students understand, but the degree to which they can comprehend and apply each word. It can be used as a pre-unit activity to help inform your instruction as well as a post-unit activity to help monitor student growth.
There are two vocabulary inventories included. One has been pre-filled with commonly used tier 2 words such as “analyze,” “evaluate,” and “verify.” This is an excellent diagnostic tool for the beginning of the year. The other is a blank assessment that can be filled in with any words you choose at the start of a new unit.
Grounded in research, the vocabulary inventory is an adaptation of the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) assessment used by Wesche and Paribakht (1996) based on the concepts of Dale’s (1965) incremental stages of word learning. Useful for all students including ELLs, it can be an invaluable tool in guiding instruction and measuring progress.
The vocabulary inventory is also sold as part the mega-packets, "Vocabulary Activity Pack: 20+ Games, Printables and More," and "First Week Survival Kit." You can find them here:
Vocabulary Activity Mega-Pack: 20+ Games, Printables and More
First Week Survival Kit: 20+ Back-to-School Activities
You might also like:
Connotation-Denotation: Fun Word Sort
Word Choice Activity: Vivid Verbs
A special thanks to Tracee Orman
for their borders and fonts!
Keywords: vocabulary, vocabulary assessment, vocabulary pre-test, post-test, diagnostic, back-to-school, ELL, VKS, tier 2