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?
There is no one that I know who does not love bragging rights. This is such a fun but meaningful activity. It would help visual learners a lot.
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A great way to teach shades of meaning!
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Fun way to teach vocabulary. Teacher can extend lesson by having students write synonyms instead since it seems the teacher did all of the writing. Great way to teach synonyms and levels of emotion in writing. Was the character bothered, upset, mad, angry, furious, livid, etc. Teach a few examples and have kids create their own.
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This video didn’t exactly show the technique being used, but from a standpoint, I can see how this would be very helpful in a classroom. It’s also a different way to use paint cards to make it more fun.
Recommended (1)
For visual learners I think this is a fantastic way to help them learn the different meaning of vocabulary!!!
Recommended (0)


  • [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 / Collaboration

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Planning

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Engagement

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12 / ELA / Tch DIY




Educating for Democracy