So, when it came to vocabulary, I made them map it out. I think I came upon the concept once in my credential program. It was just a mention of 'oh, here's a tool you can use' with nothing further to add. The first time I used it, meh. The kids were no more interested than before. So I tinkered with it a bit, and then I modeled it to them once a day for three days with very different words. At the time, I couldn't count on any of my students having access to computers or the school providing them. Now, I would publish this as a spreadsheet so all my students and parents had access to it.
Here's the template I put together in Google Sheets:
Here's an example of a completed Word Map:
I had to fish a bit for a word that hit all the bases. The word 'construction' has a prefix, a root, and a suffix. It has both synonyms and antonyms, and more importantly, there are both derived words like "construction site", different parts of speech based on the main word, and other words which use the same root, like "construe". The concept of related words is important if you want your students to start parsing word meanings on their own. Once they can spot roots and bases and connect them to words they already know, they'll be able to make meaning without having to resort to a dictionary. It's not foolproof, but I found that my students were much more engaged when they saw how interconnected the words of their language were. Plus, they can have a good snigger at the inclusion of "erection".