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List-Group-Label

List-group-label is a form of semantic mapping. The strategy encourages students to improve their vocabulary and categorization skills and learn to organize concepts. Categorizing listed words, through grouping and labeling, helps students organize new concepts in relation to previously learned concepts.

Why use list-group-label?

  • It helps students organize their understanding of specific vocabulary and concepts.
  • It builds on students' prior knowledge about a topic.
  • It actively engages students in learning new vocabulary and content by activating their critical thinking skills.
  • It teaches categorizing and labeling skills.

How to use list-group-label

  1. Select a main concept in a reading selection.
  2. List: Have students brainstorm all the words they think relate to the topic.
    • Visually display student responses.
    • At this point do not critique student responses. Some words may not reflect the main concept, but hopefully students will realize this as they begin grouping the words in the next step.
  3. Group: Divide your class into small groups. Each group will work to cluster the class list of words into subcategories. As groups of words emerge, challenge your students to explain their reasoning for placing words together or discarding them.
  4. Label: Invite students to suggest a title or label for the groups of words they have formed. These labels should relate to their reasoning for the grouping.
When to use: Before reading During reading After reading
How to use: Individually With small groups Whole class setting

Watch list-group-label in action

Go inside Cathy Doyle's second grade classroom in Evanston, Illinois to observe her students learning the list-group-label strategy. Cathy builds the lesson around the concept of gardening, based on a recent classroom read-aloud, The Gardener. Joanne Meier, our research director, introduces the strategy and highlights the vocabulary and comprehension skills that list-group-label supports.

Examples

Science

This example shows how the list-group-label strategy can be used with learning about living and non-living earth systems.

See earth systems example > (48K PDF)*

Social Studies

This website shows an example of a Native American list-group-label activity.

See social studies example >

Differentiated instruction

for second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners

  • Ask students to return to lists it as they read through and the text related to the major concept they brainstormed about. They may find they should add words from their reading or re-label the groups of words they created.
  • Encourage students to discuss lists with others outside their initial small group.
  • Have students write the lists or type them using a word processing program.
  • Provide students with pre-established categories to use to group words.
  • Create graphical representations of words in order to help students connect to prior knowledge.
  • Ask students to create their own drawings to accompany the words.

See the research that supports this strategy

Lenski, S. D., Wham, M. A., & Johns, J. L. (1999). Reading and learning strategies for middle and high school students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Taba, H. (1967).Teacher's handbook for elementary social studies. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Tierney, R.J., & Readence, J.E. (2000). Reading strategies and practices: A compendium (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Children's books to use with this strategy

Face to Face with Polar Bears

Face to Face with Polar Bears

Norbert Rising finds himself in dangerous situations in the Arctic as he studies polar bears. This book connects children with the consequences of global warming, and gives practical advice on how to help save our white-furred friends.

Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why did the chicken cross the road? He could be running from approaching zombie chickens or just joining a bunch of buddies for a picnic. Different illustrators use various techniques to provide a (mostly) visual answer to the time-worn question with lots of laughs along the way!

On Beyond Zebra

On Beyond Zebra

Readers will delight in the playfulness of this word romp as they venture beyond the letter Z. Inventive letters and creatures are introduced in this funny, rhyming, alphabetic adventure in typical Seussian style.

Comments

Our 6th grade World Cultures vocabulary list is full of synonyms and multiple meaning words to explain government, economics, culture, geography, history. I cannot wait to rebuild our word wall by using this method to show the interconnecting of these strands. I hope I can use the method with a years worth of vocabulary.

I work in Colombia with sixth graders and I find this strategy amazing. That teacher is fantastic. I'm taking my master program and we're about to use that method to learn new words about SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISTION. Thanks for sharing it.

I am a teacher candidate for special education and this is the first strategy that I viewed. I am already in love with this website! I don't think I've ever heard of this strategy and I like it and will most likely use it. I can't wait to check out the others. Thank you!

Wow, this is a wonderful strategy to teach children, especially, low levled students, new words. Thanks

What an awesome strategy!!! Can't wait to use it. A vocabulary and comprehension strategy all in one. I love how the teacher in the video explained why it was important to learn new words as she wrapped up the lesson. I've been looking for a new way to teach vocabulary to my kindergarteners, and I think I just found it!! :)

I can't wait to try this new strategy in my classroom. I like all the benefits this strategy has for the students with learning new vocabulary. It builds categorizing and labeling skills, as well as making the students become engaged in the vocabulary words for the book.

I love the List-Group-Label. The list of words from students can be so simple, but they can also be so much more elaborate. The student enjoy the activity especially when they are allowed to create their own lists, then group them together and finally label their groups.

I am familiar with the strategy, List-Group-Label, and have used it occasionally with my students. In the times I have used it, it has worked very well in providing the students with an opportunity to build their prior knowledge. Several of my students love to draw and I never considered differentiating the strategy. I plan on giving my students the option now to include drawings with their groups of words.

I am familiar with the strategy, List-Group-Label, and have used it occasionally with my students. In the times I have used it, it has worked very well in providing the students with an opportunity to build their prior knowledge. Several of my students love to draw and I never considered differentiating the strategy. I plan on giving my students the option now to include drawings with their groups of words.

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