Thinking Beyond the Map: Using Thinking Maps for Vocabulary Development
- Students need to be exposed to a word at least six times in context to learn the meaning of the word.
- Even superficial instruction of new words enhances learning those words in context.
- One of the best ways to learn a new word is to associate a mental image or symbolic representation with it.
- Direct vocabulary instruction works.
- Direct instruction on words that are critical to new content produces the most powerful learning.
Using Thinking Maps to Teach Vocabulary
Before Teaching a Lesson…
- Create a tree map to identify words that are critical to academic content for several units you will be teaching this year.
- Use a circle map to brainstorm strategies to determine the meaning of a word.
- Check out the standards. Marzano (2005) states, “Teaching word parts enhances students’ understanding of terms.” In the SC standards, there is a Greek and Latin root and affix matrix beginning at grade 5.
- Use a bridge map to connect what students will learn with a related subject from their prior knowledge is a powerful strategy for teaching new concepts and new vocabulary words. Use words from their past experiences or learning that have a similar relationship to new vocabulary terms. The words from their prior knowledge serve as an “anchor” for the new learning.
- Use a brace brace map to analyzing parts of words. Color code the definition of the prefix, suffix or base word. These can be written in the frame of reference along with the complete meaning of the word.
- The students can create Thinking Maps as they read a piece of text. When this technique is used, they are indirectly learning vocabulary because they are using academic vocabulary words in context as they develop their maps.
After the Lesson…
- Use a brace map to identify similarities. This helps students understand related concepts.
- Use a brace map to identify differences about general characteristics. This deepens student understanding of each term and helps differentiate between two similar terms.
- Play $25,000 pyramid and use a tree map after the game to record the clues, illustrations, examples that helped students guess each vocabulary word.
Allen, J. (2008). More tools for teaching content literacy. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
Allen, J. (1999). Words, words, words: Teaching vocabulary in grades 4-12. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford.
Beers, K. (2003). When kids can’t read what teachers can do: A guide for teachers 6-12. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Marzano, R.J., & Pickering, D.J. (2005). Building academic vocabulary. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision of Curriculum and Development.