Vocabulary Tree A Vocabulary Strategy

A very visual (usually hand-drawn) chart that allows students to break down, comprehend, and become familiar with new vocabulary terms. This strategy introduces the root of the term first, and then continues to build from there, until students are comfortable with both the meaning of the parts of the word, and are able to use that knowledge to come up with more examples using those roots they’ve mastered.

1. Hand out blank tree charts—must include roots, trunk, and however many branches necessary depending on how many examples you would like students to provide.

2. Give each student a vocab word they must know, and instruct them to put that, and its definition, in the center of the tree.

3. Students are then instructed to identify the root of the term, and put it and its definition at the roots.

4. Upon understanding the root, as well as the vocabulary term itself, students will then identify x amount of example words that also use the same root, and include one on each branch.

5. Students will and the definition to these examples, as well as use them in a sentence they create on their own.

This strategy is engaging to students who are visual learners, as well as like opportunities to express their creativity! By giving students each a word they are to be researching and then creating an entire chart with, they may be motivated by the freedom exacted in that. For example, this vocabulary strategy offers a refreshing alternative to the copying down and memorizing of vocab words—a practice which almost ensure the terms will lose meaning as soon as the bell rings and won’t transfer over to any of the student’s other classes or aspects of their lives. By allowing them to come to an understanding by finding and creating examples, each tree can be different and will aptly reflect what will help each individual understand.

In English, this strategy is a great way both to introduce the idea of ‘root words’ themselves, and to get students participating in identifying and categorizing them. It also provides for a new way to collect vocab words that students may be tested on at the end of the week, month, etc. The best thing about this strategy is that it is incredibly adaptable! Here are a few variations that would allow students to familiarize themselves and each other with the vocab they are required to know:

• Have students make themselves one tree for each vocab word, to collect in their notebooks as time goes on.

• Split into groups and give them each a word or two to work on, then share work with class so each group then receives the same information upon presenting.

• Have each student create one tree and then use the tea party strategy and require that each student meets once with everyone until all are debriefed on every term.

• Use the graffiti wall strategy and leave one unfinished tree at every station. Rotate students until they have had an opportunity to try to add a term, example, etc, to every tree.

• -Utilize one large tree throughout the unit. Keep poster on wall and allow kids to go up and add to it as they come across new examples, or as they see fit.

• In terms of middle and high school, one could make this strategy harder by using more difficult vocabulary (maybe words with more than one root) or by mandating that they must then use the terms in a writing piece in order to ensure that they have gotten a clear understanding.

Modified from Chelsea Kahle's READ 440 Assignment Submitted to Shared GoogleSite

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Created with images by PublicDomainPictures - "tree dead winter"

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