Dorothy Frayer at the University of Wisconsin and her colleagues came up with a nifty four-square type graphic to introduce a vocabulary word to students.

It looks like this:

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The word would go in the middle and you would define it through a dictionary or student-friendly definition, examples, non-examples and some facts or characteristics of the word. You might add another box for a non-linguistic representation (drawing) that relates to the meaning of the word.

Basically this accounts for 25% of understanding the word. It answers question number one in the four question framework of Structured Word Inquiry (SWI). However, it certainly doesn’t get to the whole story of the word, including the word’s morphology, etymology or pronunciation aspects.

Here is the modified template:

Frayed Copyright

As you can see, the Frayer Model sort of sits in the upper left quadrant and the other questions make up the other boxes.

Within that quadrant one, students can define the term, draw a nonlinguistic representation of it, and use the word in a sentence. Placing the word in context is really the only way to get to the meaning of the word as it is being used.

Here is an example of a finished student product:

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In question 2, “How is it built?” the student looked at imagine and used both word sums and evidence of suffixes in other words to discover an base element. They used the Matrix Maker to then create a matrix that was added to this. If that doesn’t show how generative the four questions can be, then I am not sure what would? In the relatives box, this student found the words emulate and imagine to be derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root *aim-  and built a cognate diagram to show the relationship. Finally, using a little help from our IPA wall in the classroom, the student worked to better understand question four.

Other examples: