Sunday, August 26, 2007

List Group Label Strategy

The List/Group/Label strategy offers a simple three-step process for students to organize a vocabulary list from a reading selection. This strategy stresses relationships between words and the critical thinking skills required to recognize these relationships.

List/Group/Label challenges students to . . .
  • List key words (especially unclear and/or technical terms) from a reading selection.
  • Group these words into logical categories based on shared features.
  • Label the categories with clear descriptive titles.
Steps to List/Group/Label:
  1. Select a main topic or concept in a reading selection.
  2. Have students list all words they think relate to this concept. Write student responses on the whiteboard.
  3. Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4 students. Have these teams join together related terms from the larger list. Have the teams provide "evidence" for this grouping—that is, require the students to articulate the common features or properties of the words collected in a group.
  4. Ask the student groups to suggest a descriptive title or label for the collections of related terms. These labels should reflect the rationale behind collecting the terms in a group.
  5. Finally, have students read the text selection carefully and then review both the general list of terms and their collections of related terms. Students should eliminate terms or groups that do not match the concept's meaning in the context of the selection. New terms from the reading should be added, when appropriate. Terms should be "sharpened" and the groupings and their labels revised, when necessary.
An alternative use of this strategy is for the teacher to provide the list of terms or vocabulary words for the students to organize. Then students can speculate about the topic to be read. These word lists can be copied on card stock for easier manipulation.

The finished, labeled categories can be presented in a tree map since the tree map is for classifying details and grouping ideas.

Using the List/Group/Label strategy develops critical thinking abilities and uses motivation to increase comprehension. The strategy engages students by building their curiosity and allowing them to activate their prior knowledge. Hilda Taba created this strategy because of people's interest in inductive thinking, making generalizations based on specifics. This cognition strategy is also based on Jerome Bruner's research on how people learn, organize and retain information.

Some teachers may feel that they need to teach all of the word definitions for students to be successful with this strategy; however, not knowing all of the definitions also adds to a student's curiosity and guessing definitions may increase student enjoyment in the task.

Math teachers have found success with this strategy when they have students List/Group/Label various terms, expressions and symbols.

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