It is essential that students be exposed to key vocabulary from the novel before, during and after reading. This lesson presents a strategy for vocabulary study that is introduced in the first week of the unit and continues throughout the study of the novel. Students will practice using context to make predictions about new vocabulary, a detailed word web as a study tool, creating original compositions using words and culminating in a summative assessment. This lesson can be broken down into sections and completed over a number of classes.

This novel unit provides a set of vocabulary words from the novel for each week. Each set comes with the context sentences and novel pages. Also, a vocabulary assessment is included for each week.

Group Size: Any

Learning Objectives:

• Analyze vocabulary from The Secret Life of Bees by creating a word web.
• Predict definition and part of speech of vocabulary using context clues from the novel.
• Compose pieces of writing, both independently and in groups, that correctly use the novel vocabulary.


Guiding Question:

• Do you have to understand every word you read? • How do you figure out the meaning of a word without going to a dictionary?


Vocabulary Web – Model Vocabulary Web – Graphic organizer (to be copied for students) “Expert Sentences” poster Vocabulary Web – Rubric


Do Now

5 minute journal write – 8 line expectation

Do you have to understand every word you read?
How do you figure out the meaning of a word without going to a dictionary?


Review the do now responses with random question and record answers to question 2 on the board/chart paper.
Explain students will be investigating important vocabulary from the novel as we read using word webs and their understanding will be assessed with weekly vocabulary tests.

Guided Practice

Distribute copies of vocabulary word webs (2 webs per page is optimal).
Give students a couple of minutes to review the web and write down any questions they have. These questions will be addressed later if they have not been answered by the lesson.

Begin walking the student’s through the web by modeling the word and context sentence. While you are modeling, students need to copy the work onto the first vocabulary web – this can be used as a model throughout the unit plan. Explain all context sentences will be coming from the novel and will be used to work out a prediction.
Example: Swarm “Bees swarm before death” (p.2)

Model thinking aloud a predicted definition and part of speech. Add it to the web.
Example: “Swarm sounds like something bad, especially as the sentence says it happens before death. I know that swarm must be a verb as it is what the bees are doing. I don’t know that much about bees, but swarming must be describing how the bees move or fly. Maybe swarm means to fly together.”

Model finding actual definition and part of speech. Depending on resources/time, the teacher can provide the definition for the students or students can look up word in a dictionary.
Example: swarm (v)
1. to form a flying group, especially to found a new colony
2. to move or gather in a large crowd
- adapted from Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation

Model synonym and antonym sections. Think aloud the first synonyms

Model writing a expert sentence using all the other elements of the web. Please see the “Expert Sentence” poster for the four steps.
Example: Last night after the Jonas Brother concert, my friends and I were part of a large group of screaming fans that swarmed the band when they left the arena. The band’s bodyguards had to force back the huge crowd so the band could get to their cars.

Model the illustration part of the web. Illustration should be connected to the context sentence or mastery sentence and show clear understanding of the word. Artistic ability is not assessed!

Independent Practice

Students complete a word web for another word from the vocabulary set. Teacher needs to monitor progress and check for understanding.

Exit Ticket

Have students write a question and answer for the vocabulary words studied in the lesson. These questions can be added to the weekly test.

Question: Name three types of insects that swarm.
Answer: Three types of insects that swarm are bees, locusts and termites because they can all form large groups.

Follow-up activities

Essential Vocabulary

There are six essential words (one from each week) highlighted in the list. These words have been chosen because of their importance to the comprehension of the novel and connection to themes. These essential words can be revisited each week on the tests and vocabulary stories to reinforce understanding.

Vocabulary Story/Skit

After all webs have been completed, the students can work in groups of two - four to compose vocabulary stories/skits using all vocabulary words. Stories and skits can be presented to the class.



The vocabulary webs are an ongoing assignment throughout the unit plan. The rubric follows the expectations displayed on the model word web. The rubric can be used every time the webs are graded, but teacher discretion can be used.

A summative assessment is included in the weekly files.

Attached Files:



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