Previewing Vocabulary in Context

This activity allows the teacher to determine how well students understand key words or phrases in a text prior to working with the text.


  1. The teacher provides students with a text and a graphic organizer where students can indicate how well they understand a word or phrase in the context of the reading. The teacher selects words or phrases that are needed to understand the message of the text. 

  2. The students preview the text silently and use the graphic organizer indicate how familiar they are with each word or phrase.

  3. The teacher collects and reviews the information provided by the students prior to working with the text. Having this information in advance of working with the text allows the teacher to know where students will need support. 

Helpful Tips

  1. This activity is best done before working with the text as a class. This gives the teacher time to go over the students’ responses and prepare materials that will be needed to work with less familiar vocabulary.  


  1. Students might also add words to the graphic organizer to indicate words they understand well that they feel are important for comprehension, as well as signaling words that they feel are causing them to lose meaning. 


  1. Print or digital text

  2. Print graphic organizer or online survey which provides key vocabulary and a way for students to rate comprehension using a scale from "never heard of it" to "know it well".

Sample Materials

Click a thumbnail to see a larger version.