During or after reading.
When used during reading, a concept sort allows students to clarify the meaning of unknown words and demonstrate understanding of word relationships. When used after reading, the strategy promotes improved understanding and reinforcement.
- Choose your vocabulary words.
- Write the words on sticky notes, index cards or on a pocket chart.
- Determine concept categories relevant to vocabulary words.
- Have students reread the central text using context clues to determine meaning of words. Have students use dictionaries when this is not possible.
- Using two or three defined words, model the process of sorting words into the categories.
- Have students sort the remaining words.
- Debrief as a whole class. Discuss why certain words were placed in certain categories.
- If students are ready, proceed with concept sort variations that require students to determine the categories themselves.
English language learners
Theme-based instruction is very beneficial to English language learners. It can be done in any language (including the use of pictures) and encourages higher-order thinking by making conceptual connections between words. The concept sort variations provided allow students to learn at their own pace.
Connection to anti-bias education
Concept sorts build word consciousness and understanding of the relationships between words and concepts. If maintained cumulatively, it provides a word bank resource students can access in all five ILP stages. Students build awareness of conceptual interconnectedness by categorizing and defining words according to theme.