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Concept Definition Sort


In this activity students will match concepts to their definitions. The purpose of this activity is to help front-load the concepts to be learned. It can help students clarify words before reading to enhance their comprehension of the text. This activity can be used across content areas and grade levels.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Synthesizing

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Academic Vocabulary
  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline


  • Create a list of important concepts that will be covered in the reading.
  • Write the concepts and definitions on separate pieces of paper.
Activity Steps 
  1. Introduce Concept Definition Sort.

    Introduce Concept Definition Sort.

  2. Discuss concepts.

    Distribute the papers with the concepts on them only. Within their pairs or small groups, students discuss each concept.

  3. Match concepts to definitions.

    Distribute the papers with the definitions. Students will match definitions to concepts and discuss their reasoning for each match.

  4. Conduct whole-class share-out.

    Review the correct matches by having each group share their matches and reasoning

  5. Read the text.

    Students read the text as a whole class, in pairs, or independently. As they are reading, they are looking for how the concepts connect to the main idea.

  6. Write a summary.

    After reading the text, students will write a summary using all of the concepts. This summary can be written individually or in pairs

  7. Reflect.

    Students can reflect individually or as a group, orally or in writing. · How did matching the concepts and definitions help you write a stronger summary? · How did seeing and thinking about the words prior to reading give you a better understanding of the text?

Adaptation for the Math Classroom 

In the math classroom Connect Two helps students build a stronger understanding of the relationships between mathematical skills or concepts.  For example, stdents could compare related problem-solving approaches, distinguish between situations, or connect two skills.  In each case, this practice would help students develop a flexible understanding of mathematics rather than one based on unconnected, discrete skills and ideas.

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