This strategy is deceptively simple, and can be used for a variety of purposes:
- Reviewing content vocabulary
- Reviewing story vocabulary
- Reviewing testing vocabulary
- Reviewing parts of speech or other grammar functions
- Practicing word families
- Practicing Prefixes, suffixes and affixes
- Looking at vocabulary in new ways
In order to complete this activity, you will need a list of important vocabulary and a minimum of two categories that these words can fall into.
Type the words in a large typeface and the categories in a larger, bold typeface. Cut out the words and categories, mix them up, and place them in an envelope. Give groups of students an envelope, a large piece of paper, and a glue stick, and instruct them to place the words in the appropriate categories.
For example, while reading Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, I realized that my middle school ESL students might have difficulty distinguishing the differences between the words Italian and Italy, or knowing that a Slovak is a person. So, before reading the chapter, I had students do the following vocabulary sort (all of the words came from the chapter):
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While students work, I circulate, and if I notice things in the wrong categories, I ask them to explain their reasoning. Often while talking, students will realize their mistake and are able to correct it. If possible, you can create multiple vocabulary sorts for the different vocabulary, or use the same vocabulary but give different categories to different groups.