Word Wheel/Clustering

Word Wheel/Clustering


Each of these ideas are similar and are suitable for second language learners. The word wheel and/or clustering technique is a useful way to graphically represent relationships between several words. 


According to Peregoy and Boyle (2008), the word wheel can be used to help students avoid becoming one dimensional in their word choices. The word wheel can help them understand that there are several words that can be used to express one meaning. This should be useful to students in their receptive, writing, and speaking vocabularies. 

This type of graphic organizer when referred to as a vocabulary cluster (Peregoy & Boyle, 2008) is an innovative way to gently prod students into using context clues to decipher word meanings. See the following example: 

 To be honest, I have always had a perfectionist complex constantly questioning how good a mother I am and whether my size 8 _______ is svelte enough. 

 The goal is to generate words that would make sense if placed in the blank. Ideally, once the cluster is complete, students would have generated several words that are synonymous with the author's word. These synonyms help students understand the meaning of the original word. As they generate words, they may even "guess" the author's original word. The students words would be the ones in the pink bubbles. The purple bubble is where the original word goes, but when I use this in my classroom I do not fill in the original word until after students have generated their own words. In the example, the original word used by the author is frame.