SOS: Vocabulary Quadrants

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Vocabulary Quadrants

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SOS Big IdeaDeep and rich vocabulary knowledge requires more than just memorizing a list 
of words. In this strategy, based on the work of Dorothy Frayer, students dive deeply into vocabulary words related to topics they are studying.



SOS StepsMaterials: digital media related to your topic or unit of study, copies of the FrayerModel vocabulary map for each student.

  1. Preview media and select one or two key vocabulary words that students need to know and understand. These words should be prominent in the media.
  2. Introduce students to the Frayer model vocabulary map. Provide copies for each student or have them draw their own maps.
  3. Introduce the vocabulary words to your students. Explain that they will be watching and listening to the media for more information about the words.
  4. Have students write one word in the center of a Frayer Map. If you chose multiple words for students to explore, you will need to provide additional copies of the Frayer Map.
  5. Begin by watching or reading the media, once, all the way through.
  6. Watch or read the media a second time, pausing throughout, to give students the opportunity to jot down information. 
  7. Give students two to three more minutes to complete the Frayer map and then have them partner up to discuss their maps.
  8. Facilitate a class discussion about the word and how it relates to the topic being studied.
  9. Finish up by posting a class version of the vocabulary map that compiles ideas and insights from all the students in class. Refer back to this anchor chart throughout the unit of study, adding new information and clarifications, as necessary.
SOS Sum It UpThis strategy is effective, because students spend significant time developing and deepening their understanding of specific words that are related to the unit of study. Moving from independent study, to partner discussion, and then whole class debrief provides multiple opportunities for students to grapple with meaning and exercise higher-level thinking skills, as they develop both examples and non-examples of the words.

SOS More Ideas

  • Go green with this strategy! Give students blank Frayer maps in plastic page protectors, or laminate the maps, and have them write with dry erase markers. Maps can then be easily cleaned off and reused.
  • Use this strategy to teach tricky math concepts and vocabulary.
  • Reward students for proper use of the word in context, using whatever classroom reward system you have in place (stickers, tickets, etc.).

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