Triple Entry Vocabulary Journals

This is a strategy for learning new vocabulary that uses a three-column note taking format with columns for a word in context, definition in one’s own words, and a picture, memory aid, or phrase related to the word.

Use before, during, and after reading to:
  • Help students understand key words when reading text that may limit comprehension if they are not known
  • Provide a more interactive way to learn new vocabulary than “assign, define, and test”
  • Provide a way for students to cognitively process new words, resulting in more retention
  • Help students develop a customized glossary to the text that provides words in context, applicable definitions, and personalized memory/study aids

1. Determine the key words students should understand while reading a selection.
2. Have students divide a notebook page into three columns. Label the columns:
  • Word in context
  • Definition in my own words
  • Picture, memory aid, or phrase
3. Model the strategy with several words.
  • In the first column, write down the sentence(s) within which the word is found, and underline or circle the word. Note the page on which you found the word.
  • Look up the word in the dictionary. Choose the meaning that fits the context of the word in your text.
  • Write down a definition of the word in your own words in the second column.
  • In the third column, draw an image, jot a phrase, or create a memory device that will help you remember the word and its meaning.
4. Have students practice the strategy, sharing their definitions and memory aids.

  • Have students select words they don’t know while reading. Assign a predetermined number of total words and/or how many words per page/section/ chapter the student should select to enter in their triple-entry journal for each reading selection.
  • Jigsaw the word list to be found in a particular section of text and distribute different words to different students in small groups. Students then look through the text for the words before reading the selection to find the words, write them in the context of the sentence, and complete the strategy. Then the students in each group discuss and teach each other the words they will need to know for the text they are going to read.
  • Have students compare and contrast each others’ responses and discuss the words they found and did not know, supporting the development of word knowledge.