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Example of how to use List-Group-Label

Reading and Writing Strategies


List-Group-Label is an interactive strategy that engages students in developing their vocabulary and connections between words and ideas. It helps students learn to better categorize and organize information by activating their critical thinking skills while working together as a group.

List-Group-Label is a vocabulary and comprehension strategy that engages students in a three-step process to actively organize their understanding of content area vocabulary and concepts. It provides students with a way to recognize the relationships between words and concepts using their prior knowledge about a topic. The list-group-label strategy can be used before and after students read.

Why use the List-Group-Label strategy?

List-Group-Label makes words come alive for students through their conversations and reflections on the “meaningful connections” between words. It actively engages students in learning new vocabulary and content by activating their critical thinking skills while working with partners or within small groups.

How to create and use the strategy

  1. LIST
    • Introduce a topic and have students brainstorm all the words they think related to it.
    • Visually display student responses. 
    • At this point do not critique student responses. Some words may not reflect the main concept, but hopefully students will realize this as they begin grouping the words in the next step.
  2. Group
    • Divide your class into small groups. Each group will work to cluster the class list of words into subcategories.
    • As groups of words emerge, challenge your students to explain their reasoning for placing words together or discarding them.
  3. Label
    • Invite students to suggest a title or label for the groups of words they have formed. These labels should relate to their reasoning for the grouping.

Strategy in action

Let’s listen in as students attempt to group and label Geometry terms within a small group.

Students using the List-Group-Label strategy to sort and understand Geometry terms.

Tips for success

  1. Although List-Group-Label may begin as a pre-reading activity, students should return to it as they read through and the text related to the major concept they brainstormed about. They may find they should add words from their reading or re-label the groups of words they created.
  2. Encourage students to discard words very cautiously, particularly during the prereading portion of the strategy. Often the best conversation between students centers around words that don’t immediately fall into a major category.
  3. After reading, students should return to the groups they created and determine if additional words should be added or taken away. In addition, they may consider tweaking the labels they created for categories of words.