Thursday, February 21, 2013

Vocabulary Matters: Part 7- Semantic Maps

Wow! Can't believe we're up to Part 7. Today I want to talk about the Semantic Map. I think I have used the semantic map more than any other strategy with my ESL students. It is is wonderful for any content area or any reading material. Since semantic maps are used with written texts this strategy is for Grades 2 and up.
Below you can see what semantic maps do to help students build connections between words by classifying words related to a specific content.

Semantic Maps:
builds connections between groups of semantically connected words
is highly flexible and adaptable to different contexts
concepts are tied graphically to each other
can be adapted to enhance vocabulary instruction in any reading program

How to use the Semantic Map:
The Lesson Plan:
Introduce the Concept
Make the semantic map
Read the selection
Discuss the selection and revise the map
Active Engagement

I chose to illustrate the use of a semantic map with a book I used in Alaska called: Polar Lands which is published by Steck-Vaughn. If you click on the image below you can download the document that has all the information presented below.

  • I chose to use the category "Wildlife" and begin by introducing the word to the students by writing it on the board. 
  • Then I ask my students to brainstorm a list of words related to the topic  and explain what wildlife means: living things other than human or tame
Ask students to brainstorm a list of words related to the word “wildlife”
They might suggest elephants, deer, wolves, bear.
Now add words from your text: Polar Lands (examples)
 penguins, moose, whales, otters, seals, fox, snowy owls, ptarmigan
If necessary show a picture of wildlife they may not know. 

Make the Semantic Map
Tell students that a semantic map can help them understand relationships between words.
Have them use the list of words that they brainstormed about 
 wildlife to make the semantic map.
Have them look at the words and say: “Let’s group these words into categories. What do whales and otters have in common? (They live in the water.)
Print the word water on the board with a line connecting it to “Wildlife”.
Then ask what other words can you group with water? (penguins, seals)
Ask: “Can we group the rest of the words into a category? 
What do they have in common? (They live on land.)
Then print the word Land on the board and draw a line connecting it to the word “Wildlife”
Ask students what other words they can add to this list?
 ( moose, fox, bear, wolves, elephants)

Here is what the Semantic Map might look like before reading:

Read the Selection
 After completing the preliminary semantic map. Have students read the Book: Polar Lands: Animals of the Arctic. This can be done independently, in pairs or read aloud as a whole group.

Discussion of the Selection and Revise the Map
After reading the text ask students if there are any other animals that need to  be added the map.
What other land animals did we learn about? walruses, musk oxen, caribou- add to these to the map.
What other water animals did we learn about? ocean sea, spiders, krill

Active Engagement
Provide situations in which students can interact with and discuss words on the map.
Compare 2 animals- alike and different
Choice questions
Can a penguin be found on land and in the water?
What other wildlife could you find on land and in the water?

Think about what topics you will be teaching in the next few weeks. Try to pick one that you can use with making a semantic map.  What I love most about this strategy is that doesn't take any prep time and is really easy to do. I hope you will try it.

If you have missed any of the first 5 parts you can access them by clicking on each part below:
                                              Part 6
                                              Part 5
                                              Part 4
                                              Part 3
                                              Part 2
                                              Part 1

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

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