Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Peek in My Planbook: Frayer Model Vocabulary

I'm linking up with Jodi at Clutter-Free Classroom for "A Peek in My Planbook" linky party. This is something that I introduced last week during my Math/ELA enrichment block and I will continue introducing new vocabulary strategies over the next few weeks.

Our math curriculum, Think Math!, has a ton of vocabulary but not so much reading. While I think the math is easier to understand when it's not buried under tons of written explanation, I find that the vocabulary is not supported very well on its own. I really don't like having the kids copy the words and definition in their notebooks but when there are 20+ vocab words each chapter, it's hard to figure out what else to do.  I decided to make math vocabulary a focus this year, starting with my word wall (which has since been updated with a snazzy new border).

Although, three weeks into activating the word wall, I am already looking for more ways to make it more interactive. Stay tuned for what I am working on :)

As part of my new vocabulary focus, I have been using our enrichment block to introduce some of the vocabulary strategies/concepts from a recent workshop I took, such as semantic feature analysis, semantic mapping, scaling, and the frayer model.

The kids were already using something similar to the frayer model in English Language Arts and after discovering how much they are loving it, I've decided to use it in Science, as well.  Here's how our vocabulary lesson went down.

No matter how tedious, I always start the chapter by providing the list of words and having the students create a 3-column chart that contains the word, definition, and a picture/example of the word.  This way the students learn the definition and have a foundation of the words they are working with.  Before the lesson, I always discuss the words that are new the lesson, and I highlight the words in our daily objective on the board and in their binders.

During the lesson, whenever possible, I use a different color marker to show off a vocabulary word, as it is presented, and encourage the kids to do the same, which also fosters good note taking skills. 

This time, after the students became acclimated with the words, which was about 3/4 of the way through the chapter, I split the class into six groups of four and they each came up with a list of the six most challenging words in the chapter. Most kids were choosing the same words and once all of the words were written down, we voted on the top six. Then, each group was responsible for creating a frayer model, together, for their word.  This happened over a couple of days during our 30 minute enrichment block. First, they created their model. Then, they edited with their group. Finally, we edited as a class with their models displayed on the document viewer {love, love, love my Elmo!}.

This is what some of their drafts looked like.

When I tell you that they seriously loved this activity, I'm not kidding. During the next enrichment block when I told them to get out their frayer models, some of the kids actually cheered. I think this is just a more fun way for them to understand the language and they love working in groups. Any excuse to be able to talk and work! :)

Here are their final products..

I'm also loving how they are now an active part of the room.

This week we're working on the Chapter 2 challenge words. I also introduced a vocabulary preview chart that the kids are really enjoying. As part of our Magnetism review, we will also be making semantic maps of our science vocabulary. Come back next week to see how it all turned out! Rich vocabulary is everywhere in grade 5!


  1. A few years ago I had the students make "math dictionaries". We used the frayer model for all definitions. We used a different colour of notecard for each math strand (we have 5 different strands). We hole-punched the top of each card and strung them on a binder clip. The students really liked making them, and a few even saved them over the summer so they could use them the following year.

    Runde's Room

  2. This is great! We are trying to focus on academic language this year (especially with our English Learners). This sounds like a great experience--for all kids. Plus, it remains as a referent when someone needs a reminder...

    We make word maps (synonyms, antonyms, etc), but this is so much clearer--and more conceptual.

    Thanks! Looks like Frayer Model is on my "More Things to Learn About" List!