Concept Definition Map

Middle elementary and above

  • Vocabulary development
  • Assess/develop/activate prior knowledge
  • Motivation
  • Set purpose for reading
  • Identify characteristics/properties
  • Identify examples
  • Expand understanding of concept beyond simple definition
  • Link new word to prior knowledge
  • Writing

    Strategy Steps:

    Concept Definition

  1. Display a blank model of a Concept Definition Map.
  2. Point to the questions on the map.
  3. Tell students that a complete definition would answer:`
  • What is it?
  • What is it like?
  • What are some examples?

(Insert Figure 11 here.)

4. Model how to use a concept definition map.

  • Use a familiar concept (such as horse) and elicit the relevant information for the map from the students.
  • Write the information in the appropriate boxes in the model.
  • As you guide the students in developing a definition for the concept, emphasize that it should include:
    • The word category
    • The important properties or characteristics
    • Some specific examples
  • Repeat with a different, familiar concept from the text.

5. Present another familiar concept from the text.

  • Provide guided practice as the students develop the concept map.
  • Provide as much support as necessary for the students to be successful.

6. Present the new concept from the text the students are learning.

  • Provide guided practice as the students develop the concept map.
    • They will not write the definition at this point.
  • Provide independent practice with the new concept.
    • Cover the concept map you and the students have developed.
    • Students work in pairs to recreate the concept definition map
    • They may use information from their reading passage, the glossary or dictionary, and their own background knowledge to complete their concept map.
    • Students use the information in the maps to write a complete definition of the concept.
    • The definitions should be more involved than simple dictionary statements and will usually contain several sentences.

7. Students share their definitions with classmates.Concept Definition Example

Additional strategies for concept/vocabulary development are located under Language.