"Copy these words and their definitions. Test on Friday."
Sound familiar? That's how my middle school teachers taught vocabulary, and that's how I used to too. Rote memorization can be a useful tool, but it only makes one connection (word to definition) in your brain and doesn't help much if you have to go from the definition to the word or if the definition is even slightly different on a test or quiz.
Vocabulary cards are far better. A good set of vocabulary task cards should include a card for each word, a card for each definition and a card with an image or illustration for each. With a set of cards like this, students are able to complete several interactive, cooperative learning activities in small groups.
Your students are able to create a large KIM chart with the cards, or make connections by grouping the words into teacher-given categories, or make different connections by grouping them into group discussed and created categories (named groups). Your students can even play several fun vocabulary games with them! Click here for a link to 3 free vocabulary card games you can use with any set of vocabulary cards, or click the picture below to check out task cards for World History.