Classroom Tips: Teach Domain-Specific Vocabulary With This Visual Approach

Valerie Muldoon

Editors' Note: Here at Storyworks we are obsessed with domain-specific vocab. We loved how teacher Valerie Muldoon incorporated it in her classroom. Try this visual approach with any of the domain-specific vocab from Storyworks.

I used the January Storyworks nonfiction story, "Mountain of Fire," about the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. My goal was for students to become intimately familiar with volcano lingo.

As part of previewing a story, I always go over the vocabulary they'll encounter. I used the worksheet provided in the online resources ("Volcanic Vocabulary").  And then I took this three-step approach:

1. While reading,  I asked my students to find any other words that might add to their understanding of volcanoes. They highlighted them in their magazines and tried to figure out the meanings using context clues. 

2. They then checked to see whether they were correct; if not, they added the meaning with a synonym and a visual if possible. 

3. I created the word wall above as a visual for the content words, and they later added their words.

It worked beautifully!

Valerie Muldoon is a fourth-grade teacher in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

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