What is a definition?

In his Science and Education article, Daniel Willingham (2014) points out:

"Kids don’t learn important information that’s right in front of them, unless an adult is actively teaching them." 

The Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum© uses an explicit approach, covering all the domains language-literacy, from speech to text.

The domains, referred to as Stations in the Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum©, include a step (Station 4) in which vocabulary is taught explicitly:

1. speech sounds, letter symbols and letter formation

2. decoding and spelling

3. word building and suffix spelling

4. vocabulary development

5. sentence fluency and expression

6. comprehension and concept imagery

7. sentence writing 


In Station 4, word-meaning is taught explicitly using the Definition Building Procedure that guides the student to develop a formal, 3-part statement of a word's meaning:

  1.  the word
  2.  its category 
  3. its distinctive features or details (that set it apart from other words in its category)

As Willingham (2014) points out, "The core.... is categorization. Understanding that objects can be categorized is essential for kids’ thinking."

Here is an example of how the Definition Building Procedure works in the Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum©  (Level 9) using the word script:

First, select the word to be defined:


Second, specify the word's category:


Third, list the details that set the word apart from others in its category:


Finally, use boxes 1, 2 and 3 to write the definition, and write a example sentence:




Willingham, D. (2014). Children Need to Be Taught. Daniel Willingham's Science and Education Blog.




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