Word Mapping strategy

The purpose of the Word Mapping strategy is to promote the students’ deeper under-standing of words through depicting varying relationships between and among words.
Word maps are visual displays of word meanings organized to depict relationships with
other words. Research reveals that to develop students’ vocabularies, teachers need to
promote in-depth word knowledge (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002). The Word
Mapping strategy, or semantic mapping, is one of the most powerful approaches to
teaching vocabulary because it engages students in thinking about word relationships
(Graves, 2008). The strategy promotes students’ active exploration of word relation-ships, thereby leading to a deeper understanding of word meanings by developing their
conceptual knowledge related to words. The effectiveness of Word Mapping is sup-ported by research. For example, a study comparing mapping word relationships and a
contextual approach to learning words indicated that semantic mapping produced
greater gains in word learning (Margosein, Pascarella, & Pflaum, 1982). Students learn
about words through mapping because it helps them examine the characteristics of the
word concepts, categorize words, and see relationships among words that are similar as
well as those that may be different. Such activities that are part of the Word Mapping
strategy are cognitive strategies that lead to a deeper understanding of words and the
concepts that they represent.
The Word Mapping strategy is referred to by different names, such as semantic map-ping, concept mapping, and word clusters. The strategy may be adapted to the nature
of vocabulary instruction, the learning outcomes, and students’ grade levels. For exam-ple, for learning some words, it may be more appropriate to have students explore the
synonyms, antonyms, and origin of the words; whereas for other words, it may be more
helpful to find examples and nonexamples of the words. Sinatra, Stahl-Gemake, and
Berg (1984) used word maps successfully for vocabulary instruction with students in the
elementary grades who were disabled readers. Further, Reutzel and Cooter (2008) sug-gest the use of word maps with English language learners for vocabulary instruction
because it offers a way for them to demonstrate and connect their prior knowledge to
new concepts and, at the same time, serves as a useful tool to categorize information


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