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Worth Repeating: Connecting Word Meanings Through Semantic Mapping

[Source:  Reading Rockets]


Semantic maps (or graphic organizers) are maps or webs of words. The purpose of creating a map is to visually display the meaning-based connections between a word or phrase and a set of related words or concepts. Semantic maps help students, especially struggling students and those with disabilities, to identify, understand, and recall the meaning of words they read in the text.

Learning to create these maps aligns with three of the ELA Common Core State Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Teaching students to use semantic maps
You can provide your students with direct instruction on how to use semantic maps. Below is an example of a step-by-step set of directions, which can be especially beneficial for struggling students.

  • Pick a word you don’t know from a text you are reading and mark the word. If you’re using digital text, you can highlight, bold, or underline the word.

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