Vocabulary Strategy--Semantic Feature Analysis

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					         Vocabulary Strategy—Semantic Feature Analysis
                  Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
                          New York: Penguin, 2001

This strategy is a categorization strategy derived from the Atheoretical construct of
cognitive structure described by Frank Smith (1975). It is based upon the manner in
which human beings organize knowledge. As new information is processed:
       1. Mental categories are established for the information.
       2. Rules are formulated to allocate objects into these categories.
       3. Interrelationships are established between the categories to show both
           the similarities and unique characteristics of the objects.

This strategy is useful for systematically comparing and contrasting characteristics
of words. It helps them see how words are related—especially vocabulary, themes,
or character traits that you would like to focus on. The strategy can be used in a
number of ways, but I have focused that use for the purpose here of vocabulary.

   1. Select a category name to begin the lesson. Don’t make it so unfamiliar that
      they don’t understand what you’re asking them to do.
   2. List words. Have the students make their own suggestions of words that can
      be used for that category.
   3. List features. Decide which features (size, shape, number) will be
      approached in the strategy. For this example I will focus on vocabulary.
   4. Indicate feature possession. Guide the students through setting up the chart
      and determining whether or not the concepts listed have the features also
   5. Discuss and add words and features. Lead a class discussion about their
      findings. Students have already connected which features are possessed by
      which concept. Suggest new features to be analyzed that haven’t yet been
      thought of.
   6. Complete and explore the chart.

                                 Carroll, BYU, 2010

       This strategy is extremely handy because it is so versatile. No matter how

you set up the categories and features, students are gaining important vocabulary

experience. Allowing students to think up their own categories or features

occasionally will also help them feel more involved and be more interested in the


       I set up this activity to focus on the many sides of Edmond Dantes. As a

teacher I want students to understand the intrigue and multiple levels of Dantes’

revenge. This activity allows them to discover those levels on their own and make

connections from one part of the novel to another. It is a great activity because I can

set up the assignment and then set them loose and trust that good things will come

of it. I also like that I can use the blank chart for a thousand different discussions.

                                   Carroll, BYU, 2010

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