S.O.S: Vocabulary Stepping Stones

Welcome to  Spotlight on Strategies Challenge!  Our S.O.S series  provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating DE media into your curriculum.

Vocabulary Stepping Stones
PDF Version

Thanks to DEN STAR Susan Bowdoin from APS for showing me the great article ‘Using Video and Film in the Classroom’ from Reading.org where I am borrowing this week’s strategy. According to the article, “Vocabulary Steppingstones is easily adapted to any content classroom where longer video clips are being used. This instructional routine also encourages students to apply academic vocabulary orally before they write about the film.”


  • Have print out the following words and have students cut and mix them up.
    • Science Fiction, Diversity, Organisms, Classification, Related, Domain, Characteristics, Protists, Fungi, Plants, Animals, Kingdom, Taxonomy, Species, Offspring, Binomial Nomenclature, Genus, Hypothesize
  • In small groups of 3 have students discuss which words are familar and their understanding of the meaning.
  • As a whole group, briefly have students share out and review the words and their meanings.
  • Explain to students that as the video segment plays, with a partner they will place the words in order as they are heard in the segment.
  • Play video segment Organisms Undersea Discoveries (05:25)
  • After segment concludes have students discuss the sequence of topics from the segment, using the order they placed the vocabulary words and discuss how it was used in context.
  • As a whole group have each group share one thing they found most interesting.


  • Select a video segment that matches your current curriculum.
  • Preview the video and select 10-15 vocabulary words from the video that are important to their knowledge of the content.
  • Type and print the vocabulary list.
  • Have students cut out the vocabulary words.
  • In small groups students discuss what they believe the words mean.
  • As you play the video segment, students should work in pairs to order the vocabulary words as they are heard.
  • After the video is completed, have students discuss the vocabulary in the order they have placed them in and in context to the video.

You can take the challenge by:

  • Implementing this strategy and letting us know how it went by posting a comment below.
  • Using this strategies in your grade level planning discussions and/or professional development and reporting your events. (Remember we consider an event anytime 3 or more educators gather together… doesn’t have to be in a computer lab… could be sitting around the lunch table)
  • Photocopying the flier and distributing it in your colleague’s boxes and/or posting it to your own BulleDEN board.

So see other strategies in this series click here.  For a link to all the PDFs in this series click here.


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  1. Shelly Harrington said:

    I used this as a review for the first semester information to prepare students for our final exam. We watched “Search for the Ultimate Survivor: The Mystery of us” I showed clips with the following terms:

    Cultivation, Animal husbandry, irrigation, blacksmith, Hunter Gatherers, nomad, agriculture, pueblo,

  2. Jannita said:

    Thanks for sharing Shelly! I love to hear how everyone is applying these strategies!

  3. Laura Brown said:

    I am going to use this strategy on Monday with my 3rd grade students….

    We are working on culture, foods, customs, traditions. I will be interested in seeing how this unfolds with the 7 students I service. Will report back!!

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