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Resource Library  |  Learning Strategies  |  K to 3, Grades 7 to 9

Vocabulary Evolution

Above Image: The upward growth pattern of a plant © feellife,

What is it?

The Vocabulary Evolution learning strategy encourages students to reflect and revise their thinking about vocabulary words for a given topic. The strategy can be used as a diagnostic assessment tools by educators to gauge student’s level of familiarity with vocabulary and understanding of concepts.

Why use it?

  • To stimulate student self-reflection about what they know about the meaning of words used during an inquiry, learning unit, etc.
  • To enable students to keep a running record of their understanding of specialized vocabulary associated with inquiries and explorations.
  • To identify students’ preconceptions and/or misconceptions about given words and concepts.
  • To integrate literacy skills, in particular those associated with writing.

How do I use it?

  • Before using this strategy, introduce its purpose to the students and provide a structured example to teach and model expected behaviours.
  • Provide each student with a copy of a pre-made Vocabulary Evolution Template (see Tools and Templates below) or use the generic Vocabulary Evolution Template to add vocabulary words of your own.
  • To start, students write (or draw) their current understanding of the meaning of the vocabulary words provided in the first column of the chart.
  • Afterwards, the templates can be collected so that student understanding can be assessed. Return the charts to the students.
  • As students develop new and/or deeper understanding of vocabulary words during the unit/inquiry/learning activities, have them revise their vocabulary meanings using the columns to the right of the first column. Their understandings of new words may change several times whereas their understandings of familiar words may not.

Tips for Success

  • Keep note of each students’ ability to express their understanding of the vocabulary words in words and pictures.
  • Identify any misperceptions and/or misconceptions that may have presented themselves as students complete their charts.
  • Encourage students to think about other related vocabulary and include them by adding more lines to the template.


  • Use a Think-Pair-Share learning strategy to have students share their vocabulary meanings with others as a way to reflect on their own understanding of the words.
  • Have students use different coloured markers, pencils or crayons to record each new set of meanings.
  • Instead of using paper copies of the chart, use online tools such as Google docs or Google charts.

Tools and Templates:

Tomatosphere™ Vocabulary Evolution Template – Planting Seeds (K-3) pdf doc

Tomatosphere™ Vocabulary Evolution Template - Germination (4-12) pdf doc

Tomatosphere™ Vocabulary Evolution Template – Tomato Plant Life Cycle (4-12) pdf doc

Tomatosphere™ Vocabulary Evolution Template – Photosynthesis (7-12) pdf doc

Vocabulary Evolution Generic Template - Pictures & Words (K-3) pdf doc

Vocabulary Evolution Generic Template - Words only (4-12) pdf doc