Building Academic Vocabulary – Review Games Part 1

I’m not sure if there is a kid alive who doesn’t like to play games.   Granted, they like some games better than others.   Given the choice of a game or not a game, though, they always seem to choose a game.   Marzano uses that fact as a key component in his recommended systematic approach to building academic vocabulary in Building Academic Vocabulary .


As I said in my last post, I have been working to incorporate more instruction in academic vocabulary but need to do more regular review of the vocabulary.  To that end, I spent the last few days building a set of cards I can use in a couple of different games.  (You can download the cards by clicking on Charades )  I normally spend the last five to ten minutes of  class every day for some kind of review or as some kind of differentiated instruction.   These vocabulary games will go into that rotation.


Draw Me 

This is essentially a variation of Pictionary.   Students will work in table groups.  One student per group will be assigned to draw for a given round based on seat position.  ( I explain how I use seat positions in this post)  The drawer will get a cluster of terms that are related (eg., mean, median, mode).  He or she will draw pictures representing the words until the team guesses all of the words in the cluster.  When the team has guessed all of the words, the drawer stands and says “Got it”.   At that point, all other teams stop drawing.  The winning team gets a point.   Ideally, the game continues long enough for the drawer task to rotate through each member of the group.   In reality, I know there will be days when I just don’t have time for that, so the game will stop when time is up.   The winning team is the one with the most points.  (They will each get a piece of candy.)

I will have a set of cards for each table group and give the drawer the cards that are the cluster for their group.   I could do this by posting the words on the Promethean Board, but then I would have to ensure that everyone except the drawer was facing away from the board.   That seems like it would take more transition time than I want, so I decided to go with the cards.


This can be played with two different variations.

Variation 1:  

Students stand next to their desks and act out the word card displayed using the document camera or Promethean Board.   Students get “think” time after seeing the word and then are told to act it.   This feels more like an activity than a game to me, so I will probably use this when I am shorter on time.

Variation 2:  

Students work with their table group.   A designated group member is the actor (the actor will be determined by seat position within the group – e.g., Deltas do the first round, Sigmas the second, and so on).  Each table group will be given a set of cards.   The actors stand in front of their table group and begin to act out the term.   When the team has guessed the term, the actor raises the term card in the air to indicate his  or her team has correctly found the term.    The first team to identify the term gets a point.   The team with the most points at the end of the allotted time is the winner.




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