Sample Lesson and Activities for Explicit Instruction

by | Feb 6, 2024


In this part of our series on explicit instruction and academic vocabulary development, we will explore a sample lesson based on a research-proven vocabulary development routine. This lesson incorporates elements from Robert Marzano’s six-step vocabulary development, Kate Kinsella’s vocabulary instruction routine, and Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s Gradual Release of Responsibility.


Sample Lesson: Introduction to the Word “Example”


Focus Lesson (I do):

  1. Introduction to the Word (1 minute):


    • Spell the word: “Example”
    • Break down syllables: “ex-AM-ple”
    • Pronunciation: Model and have students repeat multiple times.
    • Knowledge Rating: Ask students to rate their familiarity with the word on a scale of 1 to 4.


What it might look like: “Our first new word today is example, e-x-a-m-p-l-e. Repeat after me, example… ex- AM ple…example… Now the back of the room only… Now the front… Now let’s whisper it… Class, show me on your fingers your knowledge of the word example. Kianna, I see you gave it a four. Will you explain example to us? (Kianna’s Response: An example is one thing to kind of show more things.) Good, Kianna. That’s similar to mine.”


  1. Teacher’s Explanation of the Word (2-3 minutes):


    • Provide a brief, concise explanation of the word, avoiding formal or dictionary definitions.
    • Write the explanation on the board.
    • Give examples of the word in use, including non-examples or examples of its opposite.
    • Invite Spanish speakers and EL/bilingual students to share cognates or translations.


What it might look like: “An example is one thing that represents a larger group of things. So if I say ‘jazz is an example of the kinds of music I like’ that means that I like jazz and there are many other kinds of music that I also like. Jazz is just an example of the many kinds of music I enjoy. I could also say ‘Bud and Amy are examples of heroic characters we’ve read about.’ That means that they are both heroic characters, and that we must have also read about other heroic characters. It would not be correct to say, ‘A square is an example of a geometric figure with 4 equal sides and 4 right angles.’ That doesn’t make sense because the square is the ONLY figure like that. There are no OTHER examples so it doesn’t represent a larger group. Josue, my Spanish cognate expert, is there a word you’ve heard in Spanish that sounds like example? (Response: ejemplo). Yeshi, can you translate example into Tibetan for me? Tenzin, does that sound right?”


Guided Practice (We do):


  1. Students Practice the Word in a Sentence (2-5 minutes):


    • Use a cloze sentence and have students respond in unison with the target vocabulary word.
    • Direct students’ attention to anticipated errors and provide frames for correct usage.
    • Allow students to practice the word correctly with a partner.


What it might look like: “Write on the whiteboard: Vanilla is an ___ of popular ice cream flavors. Strawberry and vanilla are two ___ of popular ice cream flavors. Read the sentences on the board as cloze sentences: Strawberry and vanilla are two (students respond in unison: examples) of popular ice cream flavors. Notice how we went from ‘an example’ in the first sentence to ‘examples’ in the second sentence. Partner A’s tell partner B’s why it changed… (Response: Example changed to examples because there’s more than one now.) Partner B’s tell partner A’s when the word example needs to be singular, and when it needs to be plural… (Response: You write ‘an example’ if there’s just one, but you write the plural, examples, when there are two or more) Now use these frames on the board to write/say your own sentences.”


Collaborative Practice (You do together):


  1. Students Create Their Own Explanation of the Word (3 minutes):
    • Students share with a partner, revise as needed, and copy into a language log.
    • Pick a student with a strong response to share with the class.


  1. Students Create Non-Linguistic Representation of the Word (2 minutes):
    • Students come up with their own representation, such as a sketch, picture, or gesture.


  1. Students Engage in Structured Activities to Use the Word Flexibly (5-10 minutes):


    • Require students to use the new vocabulary in context during learning activities.
    • Monitor for accurate use and provide feedback as needed.

This structured approach ensures that students actively engage with the new vocabulary word, leading to deeper understanding and retention. By incorporating various modalities of learning, educators cater to diverse learning styles and foster a supportive learning environment.


In the next part of our series, we will delve into independent practice and review strategies for reinforcing academic vocabulary across the curriculum.




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