Have you looked at Robert Marzano's Six Steps of Vocabulary Instruction (2004)? They are a valuable tool to help you "step up" your teaching.
1. Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term.
2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.
3. Ask students to construct a picture, pictograph, or symbolic representation of the term.
4. Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks.
5. Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another.
6. 6. Involve students periodically in games that enable them to play with terms.