Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Undercover Vocabulary

Karen Cabai


Undercover Vocabulary is a lesson that incorporates vocabulary usage and review into a cooperative learning activity. Students create a skit using identified vocabulary words and perform the skit for the class.


The student refines vocabulary for interpersonal, academic, and workplace situations, including figurative, idiomatic, and technical meanings.

The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

The student selects and uses appropriate listening strategies according to the intended purpose (such as solving problems, interpreting and evaluating the techniques and intent of a presentation, and taking action in career-related situations).

The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.


-A list of identified vocabulary words
-A list of characters for the students to become (Batman, Robin Hood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Romeo, etc.)
-A list of places or settings for the skit
-An overhead or chart paper with the instructions for the skit
-Other art supplies for visual aids


1. Identify vocabulary words to review.
2. Create five to six vocabulary lists. You'll need one list for each group.
3. Create a list of places or settings for the skits. Cut list into individual places and put in a hat.
4. Create a list of characters for your students. You'll need one character for each student. Cut this list into individual names and put in a hat.
5. Create an overhead or chart identifying the instructions for the class.
6. Have paper, markers, and other art materials ready for students to use.
7. If you wish to assign the groups, have the group assignments ready.


Creation (50 minutes):
1. Allow students to choose their groups of 4 or 5. (You might assign the groups yourself, if you choose.)

2. Give each group a list of identified vocabulary words.

3. Go to each group and let one member choose a place. Then let each member choose a new persona or character.

4. Tell the students that their task is to create a skit incorporating the characters, the place, and all of the vocbulary words. Put instructions on an overhead or chartpaper for the students to reference during the creation part of their skits.

5. Students should create visual aids (posters, props, etc.) to support their skit.

6. Students should write the skit in a play or skit format.

7. Teacher will assess the activity.

Performance (50 minutes):
1. Groups perform their skits with the students acting out their character parts.

2. Students emphasize the vocabulary words as they speak them.

3. Students in the audience should listen carefully for each vocabulary word and try to identify any incorrect word usage. Students' behavior should also demonstrate appropriate listening skills.


The vocabulary use will be assessed by checking off each word as the students perform the skit and by making note of proper or improper usage.

The writing will be assessed by checking the skit drafts for content, development, and appropriate structure.

The public speaking skills will be assessed holistically based on whether or not the tone, voice, and pitch of the speakers conveyed the meaning of the skit, whether or not visual aids were used effectively, and whether or not the vocabulary words were emphasized in the skit.

The listening portion will be assessed by making sure that all students in the audience are focused and paying attention. Laughing at funny skits and asking questions at the end is also appropriate.


Vocabulary can be used from any subject area. A particularly effective form was to use science and social studies vocabulary in the English class. Also, the choice of characters encourages students to think in a variety of ways. Historical figures, fictional characters, and even political figures might be used.

Modifications occur when the teacher selects the groups him or herself. That way ESOL students might have peer tutors. Students needing extra time or more explanation might be grouped in a way that accommodates them.

Web Links

Web supplement for Undercover Vocabulary
Online Dictionary

Web supplement for Undercover Vocabulary
All Words

Attached Files

Handouts and activity sheets necessary to accomplish this lesson.     File Extension: pdf

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