Word Grid

 

Rationale

The word grid is an effective visual technique for helping students learn important related terms and concepts from the content areas (Baumann, Kame’enui, & Ash, 2003). It provides students with an organized framework for learning words by analyzing the similarities and differences of key features (Johnson & Pearson, 1984).  Learning vocabulary through the use of word grids allows students to contextualize vocabulary knowledge, which increases comprehension of disciplinary texts (Nagy & Scott, 2000).

 

Teaching Process

1.   Put a simple word grid on the wall that will serve as an example for explaining how it is constructed and used. After analyzing a demonstration word grid, students will be much better prepared to create and study from one with actual disciplinary content. 

2.   Students should be provided a blank word grid with plenty of columns and rows for an upcoming lesson or chapter.  A large version of the grid could be put on poster paper and attached to the wall, or one could be projected from an overhead or computer.  As critical related terms and defining information are encountered, students should write them into the grid.  The teacher can invite students to suggest key terms and features, too.  To take full advantage of word grids, they should be co-constructed with students, so as to maximize participation in the word learning process. 

3.   Once the grid is complete, the teacher should quiz students by asking questions about the words related to their similarities and differences.  In this way, students will make a connection between the effort they put into completing and studying the grid, and the positive outcome on word knowledge quizzes.

4.   Once several related terms are written along the vertical dimension of the grid, then add features, characteristics, or other defining information in the spaces at the top of the grid moving left to right. 

5.   The teacher can demonstrate for students how the grid can be used to study key terminology based on critical defining characteristics.  Students can be asked to provide features of similarity and difference for pairs of terms, as in “What are two common characteristics of apples and bananas?” or “Give me two ways that oranges and grapes are different?”

6.   Students should be allowed time to quiz each other over the content of the grids in preparation for tests and other vocabulary related activity.

 

Sample Word Grid for “Fruit”

 

Tree-grown

edible skin

Tropical

citrus

apple

     Y

    Y         

    N

    N

banana

     Y

    N

    Y

    N

grape

     N

    Y

    N

    N

orange

     Y

    N

    Y

    Y

   Y = Yes  N = No

 


Sources

Bauman, J., Kame’enui, E., & Ash, G. (2003). Research on vocabulary instruction: Voltaire  redux. In J. Flood, D. Lapp, J. Squire, & J. Jensen (Eds.), Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts (2nd ed., pp. 752-785). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Johnson, D., & Pearson, P.D. (1984). Teaching reading vocabulary. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Nagy, W., & Scott, J. (2000). Vocabulary processes. In M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, P.D.Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (Vol. 3, pp. 269-284). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

 

CONTENT LITERACY STRATEGY DESCRIPTIONS

Dr. William G. Brozo