Front-loading Vocabulary in a High School Journalism Class

Front-loading vocabulary is a strategy teachers use to introduce students to words and/or phrases that may be unfamiliar to students before they read an associated text.

The first post of the 30-day writing challenge included a review of the challenges of a new course this year: Introduction to Journalism. This post addresses a strategy often used before presenting a text to students called “frontloading vocabulary.” (Day 2 of the 30-day Writing Challenge)

Before I begin, I would like to thank Dr. Deborah M. Vereen-Family Engagement Influencer for joining me in this writing challenge! Enjoy!


What Is Front-loading Vocabulary?

In a nutshell, front-loading vocabulary is a strategy teachers use to introduce students to words and/or phrases that may be unfamiliar to students before they read an associated text. The text makes more sense after they have studied this vocabulary.

In other situations, teachers may not introduce new words to students, like during “text-dependent analysis,” when students are supposed to determine meaning from the context and “read around” the unfamiliar word or phrase. Once they understand the context, they are more likely to guess what the word means. Another strategy, of course, is to look up the words using an online or physical dictionary.

Why Front-load Vocabulary in Journalism Class?

Well, I believe it is better to navigate the texts about journalism with prior knowledge, including vocabulary to which the students have been exposed. There are so many issues related to journalism! Stopping constantly to make meaning in context (and perhaps misinterpret) or to look up vocabulary will, I believe, stop the thinking and maturation process required to fully appreciate the challenges journalists face.

How Will You Front-load Vocabulary?

My students love Quizlet, but there are other apps that might do the job too.

Right after I typed that sentence, I tried Unfortunately, the site was unable to help me learn disinformation and misinformation, two words that will be important in my first unit! I’m sorry,

The Etymology Online Dictionary is promising as a partner to Quizlet. When I looked up “misinformation,” it gave me the definition and etymology, and it showed on the same page the same types of information for “disinformation.”

I’m going to use the Etymology Online Dictionary with Quizlet, since I can easily add etymological information in Quizlet during list customization. Additionally, students will also create Quizlets to share with the rest of us. The students already love the app and know it well, so why make studying vocabulary more difficult by having them learn to use yet another tool?

Another potential partner for vocabulary is the American Press Institute. The “Journalism Essentials” section is one we will be turning to often this year as we search for words, phrases, and concepts to add to our knowledge toolbox. I’ll start with the first set of tools mentioned and move us over to API after a foundation has been laid.

If you have other ideas, please leave a comment for me.

What Words or Phrases Are You Planning to Start With?

Here is a list of words I have decided upon so far.

  • Journalism
  • Journalist
  • Reporter
  • Editor
  • Information
  • Misinformation
  • Disinformation
  • Bias
  • Objectivity
  • Source
  • Credibility
  • Truth
  • Reality
  • Verification
  • Public Good
  • Committed Observer
  • Story
  • Story Structure

Thank you to Daemon Littlefield for suggesting Fourth Estate and “Show, Don’t Tell” to this list.

If you have more suggestions, please leave a comment.

Thank you for reading this article.

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