My class uses vocabulary journals. Everyday a sentence is on the board when the students enter. The target word is written in a different color. The goal is for the students to interpret the sentence and figure out the meaning of the word using context clues. After "predicting" what they think the word means, they use a dictionary to look it up. They then define the word using the "Qualities of a Good Definition" diagram: what is it? what's it like? what are some examples? In other words, I want a definition in their own words, not a dictionary.
So an example sentence on the board would be:
Sam cut a "swath" across the pasture as he ran from the monster. Swath must mean.....
Then an example definition would be:
What is it? a route or track you take
What's it like? wide, straight, planned
What are some examples? trail, path, track
A swath is a wide, straight, planned route you take. Some examples are a trail, a path, or a track.
The goal would be for students to see that Sam ran across the pasture and the path he left was easily visible. He "mowed" down the grass to get away.