Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • L:  Language Standards 6-12
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 4b: 
    Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and
    phrases based on grades 11-12 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a
    range of strategies.

    a. Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or text; a
    wordâ\x80\x99s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word
    or phrase.

    b. Identify and correctly use patterns of word changes that indicate different
    meanings or parts of speech (e.g., conceive, conception, conceivable).

    c. Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries,
    glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation
    of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning, its part of speech, its
    etymology, or its standard usage.

    d. Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase
    (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Vocabulary Paint Chips
Lesson Objective: Build vocabulary by examining related words
Grades 9-12 / ELA / Synonyms

Thought starters

  1. What scaffolds does Ms. Wessling put into place to get her students using new vocabulary?
  2. Which words are best suited for paint chips?
  3. How could you use paint chips in your classroom?
I can't get the videos to play. Why not?
Recommended (0)
Using the paint cards is a great idea, but I'm wondering why are only forms of the same word used on these cards, and anguish, for example, is written exactly the same more than once. Wouldn't using some of the following words help get the definition for anguish in the brain more securely (affliction, agony, distress, dole, dolor, grief, heartache, heartbreak, hurting, misery, pang, rue, sorrow, suffering, throe, torment, torture, woe, wretchedness)? Or am I missing the point? I do realize that students also need to recognize the definition in different forms of the same word.
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I think anguish is listed twice to differentiate the noun definition from the adjective.
Recommended (2)
This is a brilliant idea. I could see using it in a foreign language classroom, where a verb's infinitive is at the top, and conjugated forms fill the lower color bands. For younger kids or for English language learners, different parts of speech can be used: give, gives, giving, given; irregular noun plurals, etc.
Recommended (3)
Excellent idea. Giving the bragging rights through competition with another class is a motivating force that I think may work with my entrepreneurship classes. Thanks!
Recommended (1)


  • [00:00]
    Interviewer: There are lots of ways that teachers can approach teaching vocabulary. In every unit I will give them

    Interviewer: There are lots of ways that teachers can approach teaching vocabulary. In every unit I will give them conceptual vocabulary words.

    All right, so I’m gonna send these around, take one that you want.

    I’ve discovered that in order for students to really engage in the literacy around a concept, in order to write about it, talk about it, read about it, they have to have language about it.

    This particular strategy is taking paint chips, and taking the vocabulary word, and putting it on one shade of the paint color, and then putting different versions of the word, and then finally synonyms of the word on that paint chip. Every time they use that word or any of the words on that paint chip during class, they have a little sticker and they get to post it on the wall on their way out.

    I want to read them, and I want you to say them back to me because I am afraid that if you get a word that you don’t know how to pronounce, that you’re gonna be a little self conscious. And even though you think you might want to use the word, you might not raise your hand and do it. All right, so here we go, juxtaposition.

    Interviewee: Juxtaposition.

    Interviewer: Dichotomy.

    Interviewee: Dichotomy.

    Interviewer: Two of my classes this semester are having a little competition with each other to see who can fill up their white poster the fastest. Bragging rights, they win bragging rights. I think the correct teacher response of course would be that they win a more robust vocabulary.

    [End of Audio]

School Details

Johnston Senior High School
6501 Nw 62nd Ave
Johnston IA 50131
Population: 1541

Data Provided By:



Sarah Brown Wessling
English Language Arts / 10 11 12 / Teacher


Teaching Practice

All Grades, All Subjects, Class Culture

TCH Special

All Grades / Science / Tch DIY

TCH Special

All Grades / Science / Tch DIY

TCH Special

All Grades / Science / Tch DIY