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Vocabulary Preview

Vocabulary Preview Learning Strategy

Looking up words in a dictionary (iStockphoto)

Vocabulary Preview Learning Strategy

Looking up words in a dictionary (iStockphoto)


How does this align with my curriculum?

This strategy helps students to become familiar with vocabulary before a reading or viewing unfamiliar material.

Why use it?

  • To access and activate prior knowledge of vocabulary found in a text or video
  • To preview vocabulary that the students will be engaging in when reading/viewing a text or video
  • To track new vocabulary students encounter when reading a reading/viewing a text or video

Tips for success

  • Choose an article or text you want your students to read. This strategy can work well with texts that present new vocabulary to the reader.
  • Provide the students with additional sources of information on the given topic such as websites, books, etc.
  • If creating your own Vocabulary Preview, create a list of words from the selected text/video that you feel are important for the students to understand. List both familiar and unfamiliar words so that the students can begin to understand the relationship between the words.

How do I use it?

  • Create a vocabulary list for a given article or video using the Vocabulary Preview Template (see image at right) or use one of the Ready-to-Use Vocabulary Preview reproducibles created for STEM in Context content (see below).
  • Provide each student with the prepared Vocabulary Preview page at the beginning of the class.
  • Students complete the Vocabulary Preview activity before they read/view the selected text/video.
  • Students categorize each word from the list and decide whether:
    • The word is totally new;
    • They have heard of the word, yet are not sure of its meaning;
    • They know the meaning of the word; or
    • They know the meaning of the word and can use it in a sentence.
  • Students can hand in their completed Vocabulary Preview pages to the teacher as a formative assessment of prior knowledge of the topic.
Vocabulary Preview Reproducible Template
Vocabulary Preview Reproducible Template


  • Once completed, the Vocabulary Preview can be used in different ways:
    • Students can work in pairs and discuss their responses. Students can then work together to define the unfamiliar words; or
    • Difficult words and concepts can be explicitly taught prior to reading the text to ensure the students are able to fully access the information presented.


  • Students can work together to practice pronunciations of the words in the Vocabulary Preview list.
  • Students can research the meaning of the words in the list.
  • Given a list of definitions, students then match these to the words in the list.


Using this Strategy

Vocabulary Preview Reproducible Template [Google Doc] [PDF]

Create Your Own

Vocabulary Preview Reproducible Template [Google Doc] [PDF]

Ready to Use


RSU 54/MSAD 54 School District. (2008). Before reading – Previewing.

Porter, K. (n.d.). Reading: Prereading strategies. Study Guides and Strategies.

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