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Students at this stage need to be able to use the most effective vocabulary when creating texts. Word families, word clines are two ways of improving a students’ ability to develop their writing.

Explicit teaching

Teach word families together rather than just one word alone and demonstrate how to use the words in different contexts, e.g. different, difference, differently, differ, differing.

General strategies

Students can be encouraged to keep a vocabulary journal which details new words learnt, sample sentences and student-friendly definitions of words.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity: word clines

Students can create their own base board either on paper or on the computer to use for ordering vocabulary for many topics during the year. In this example the colours indicate the modality, or strength of meaning.

Low (yellow) Medium (orange) High (red)
terrible shocking appalling

Students can work together in pairs to brainstorm synonyms to place along the cline or can be provided topic words by the teacher to order. Words to place on the cline should all be the same part of speech, e.g. adjectives or verbs.

There can be discussion about the exact meaning of words and the context in which they can be used and students can use the words in sentences to share with others.


Australian curriculum

ACELA1512: Expressing and developing ideas: Understand the use of vocabulary to express greater precision of meaning, and know that words can have different meanings in different contexts.

NSW syllabus

EN3-6B: Outcome 6: uses knowledge of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary to respond to and compose clear and cohesive texts in different media and technologies  (EN3-6B) - Understand and apply knowledge of vocabulary: understand the use of vocabulary to express greater precision of meaning, and know that words can have different meanings in different contexts

NSW literacy continuum

VOCC11M1: Vocabulary knowledge, Cluster 11, Marker 1: Makes effective word choices in response to purpose and audience when creating texts.

Teacher resources

  • www.visuwords.co - Students create their own vocabulary cards using words from independent reading and work with a partner.

Student resources

  • pbskids.org/games - In the Power Words game, students choose the correct word from four choices for a given situation. A visual re-enactment and oral explanation of each word is given to demonstrate the meaning.
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