Semantic Word Map
A semantic word map allows students to conceptually explore
their knowledge of a new word by mapping it with other related words
or phrases similar in meaning to the new word.
1. Help students acquire a clearer definition of a concept
by learning the connections among several related words
1. Select a concept and anticipate students' background
2. Reflect on important related ideas, events, characteristics, and
examples for discussion.
1. Introduce the concept.
2. Have students brainstorm many words regarding the concept.
3. Record their words on the board.
4. Extend the discussion around words that suggest larger related categories,
ideas, events, characteristics, and examples.
5. Remind students which words on the list are likely to be most useful
as the larger, organizing ideas.
6. Direct students to work together in small groups to decide which
words belong under the appropriate categories and to discuss the reasons
for their decisions.
7. Give students about 10 minutes to complete their word maps. Walk
around the room observing each group's progress, assisting when needed.
8. Allow all groups to present their semantic word maps and their reasons
for choosing each word for the appropriate category.
1. Model the process of creating a semantic word map
by identifying a common Greek, Latin, or Anglo- Saxon word root; its
core meaning; and the common base form of the root, such as astron,
star: aste1; astro. (In addition to standard classroom dictionaries,
a dictionary of word origins will also be useful.
.bene-good, well: bene, beni .civis-citizen: cit, civ
.malus-bad, evil: mal, mali
2. Write the word root and its meaning on the board and draw a circle
3. Have students brainstorm as many words as they can think of that
share that root (astrology, astronomy, asteroid, astronaut, astronome1;
astrologe1; astroturf, Astrodome).
4. As students call out the words, write them on the board on lines
radiating from the center, pointing out their meanings in relation to
5. Demonstrate how to remodel the word map by creating clusters under
broader categories, such as persons, things, fields of study.
6. Select a useful word root central to the understanding of one or
more key concepts.
7. Have students work independently or in small groups to create their
own semantic word maps as demonstrated above.
8. Encourage students to present their word maps orally to explain the
new words they have learned and the word associations that will help
them remember the target concept.
9. Direct students to proceed with the reading.
10. Incorporate Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology in semantic word maps
to help students.