Part 1: Lesson Description

Lesson Title

Gaining technical literacy by using a range of strategies to grow vocabulary


The intended audience includes adult learners (Grade Level D) seeking basic reading skill development. Learners will find employment positions that interest them and scour the descriptions for unfamiliar words. They will then use a range of strategies to determine or clarify the meaning of specific words as they are used in the job description. This lesson will help learners to gain vocabulary related to an occupation of interest in order to build knowledge to prepare for a career.

Learner Audience / Primary Users

  • Teacher
  • Student

Educational Use

  • Curriculum / Instruction
  • Assessment



Material Type

  • Instructional material


  • Designers for Learning
  • Adult Education
  • Literacy
  • Vocabulary
  • Technical
  • Occupation
  • Employment
  • RST.3.4

Time Required for Lesson

60 minutes

Targeted Skills

Key skills covered in this lesson include:

  • Employability

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, the learner should be able to:

  • Define 5 technical terms by using reference materials, context clues, or inference strategies while reading text related to job interest.
  • Communicate effectively by creating an original sentence using a new term appropriately.

College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Alignment

  • Level: Adult Education
  • Grade Level: D
  • Subject:  English Language Arts / Literacy
  • Strand: Reading
  • Sub-strand: Reading of Scientific and Technical text
  • Standard Description: CCR Anchor 4:  Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • Determine the meaning of general academic and domain specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a topic or subject area. (RST.3.4)

Prior Knowledge

Learners should know how to use an online search engine, such as Google.

Required Resources

1. Internet access for student to access online module, job search sites, and online dictionary

(For learners with no internet access, instructor may provide paper alternative to online module and dictionary -- included in lesson.)

2. Worksheet: Strategies to Determine Word Meaning -- five copies per learner:

Download: Strategies to Determine Word Meaning.pdf

3. Link to online introductory module 
This module provides a story meant to help learners see the connection between finding employment and learning job-related words. It also prompts learners to search for interesting jobs online in advance of class, preparing them for the in-class activity where they will use the Word Meaning Worksheet to learn or clarify words they find  in their job descriptions.

4. Link to online dictionary (also provided in introduction module):

5. Link(s) to online job search sites (also provided in introduction module): Indeed, LinkedIn, GlassDoor, Monster, and/or USAjobs.

6. Evaluation documents: Dealt a Devastating Hand text and Questions

Download: Dealt_a_Devistating_Hand.pdf
Download: Dealth_a_Devistating_Hand_Questions.pdf

Optional Resources (for learners with no internet access)

1.  Print alternative to introductory module

Download: Sample_Story_for_Introduction.pdf

2. Print alternative job descriptions: 

Construction Inspector

Fleet Maintenance Technician

Graphic Designer

HVAC Technician

Web Developer

Lesson Author & License

  • Lesson Author: Emily R. Keener, adapted from Pamela Wright

Part 2: Lesson

Instructional Strategies and Activities


Time: 5 minutes

At the end of the class period preceding this lesson, ask learners to brainstorm about prior experiences they faced when unfamiliar technical vocabulary was used. Record examples given, including the context where these words came up (doctor’s appointment, job interview, meeting with child’s teacher, etc.). Record any techniques that they have used to figure out the meaning of the words. If learners were not able to comprehend some words, record how did not knowing what these terms meant affected the outcome of this experience (negative/neutral outcome, feelings, impact on others, etc.).

Introduction and Demonstration

Time: 5 minutes in class (10-15 minutes for students out of class)

For homework, ask learners to visit the introduction module on their phones or laptops. Provide them the link in class (or send out in an email, if suitable for your learning situation). Explain that the module is for introducing strategies for learning new job words and to demonstrate how to use job and dictionary searches. At the end, they will be asked to search for a job that interests them. They should save that job - either keep it pulled up on their phone or print it off - and bring it to the next class. Then, during the next class period, they will use their job descriptions to practice the strategies previewed in the module (the Strategies to Determine Word Meaning worksheet). 

Guided Practice

Time: 15 minutes

Ask learners to pull out the job descriptions they found during their homework exercise. Ask them to share some of the jobs they found. Ask them to silently re-read the description and find one word that is unfamiliar or one word they think they might know, but aren't exactly sure of the meaning. (If someone can't find a word from their own description, have a selection of job-related words handy or be ready to brainstorm words depending on the learners' career interests.)

Pass out one copy of the Strategies to Determine Word Meaning worksheet to each student. Ask them to write down the unfamiliar word in the first blank on the worksheet. Then, practice going through the sheet with a word you have selected (examples: "facsimile," "facilitate," "cache," "meticulous"). Ask for help from students going through each of the strategies on the worksheet. 


Time: 20 minutes

Next, ask students to work in pairs on the word they have written on their worksheets. Circulate around the room and support their efforts as needed. If time allows, have a few students share their work with the class. 

Ask students to find another word, either from their own job description, from a classmate's, or from an instructor-prepared list. This time, ask that students work alone to complete the worksheet. Circulate around the room and support their efforts as needed.

Extension of Application (optional): This activity can be extended over time. For instance, you could assign a new job description each week in order to expose the learners to more career options. After going through this exercise in class, learners will become more capable of using the strategies independently. Repetition of the strategies would aid in long term adoption of these techniques and help to grow technical vocabulary. They could be assigned to read and fill out the Strategies to Determine Word Meaning Worksheet as homework. It would be useful to ask them to keep a running list of new terms identified in order to give a visual representation of their growing vocabulary. They could be encouraged to report out about new fields of occupation, to translate reading comprehension into speaking ability that would be relevant during interviews, networking and speaking in general.


Time: 15 minutes

Hand out the Dealt a Devastating Hand text and Questions sheet to each learner. Learners should work independently to answer the questions. This assessment will test vocabulary in context from informational text.

Assessment will be instructor observation with the following criteria:

  • Learner will answer questions about the text assigned.

Answers for Dealt a Devastating Hand, Questions: 1. A, 2. D, 3. C, 4. C, 5. B.

Key Terms and Concepts


Reference materials

Technical literacy

Part 3: Supplementary Resources & References

Supplementary Resources

10 Sure-Fire Strategies to Improve Your Vocabulary:

Attribution Statements

Content created by PORT OF SAN DIEGO for PUBLIC WEBSITE,
originally published at under a Creative Commons 3.0  license.

CC Attribution

This course content is offered by Designers for Learning under a CC Attribution license.
Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted.        

(Design Guide effective September 12, 2016)

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