How to Use Frayer Model in Your Biology Classroom: Five Ideas


The Frayer model is a great way to keep track of new vocabulary words and to create visual associations between these words and their definitions, characteristics, examples, and non-examples. Here is how you can start using this methodology in your biology classroom.

How to Use Frayer Models in Your Biology Classroom: Five Ideas


The Frayer model is a useful teaching tool for vocabulary words. This approach encourages students to connect a wide range of concepts with each new word instead of focusing on a definition. If you teach biology, you should start using this methodology in your classroom to help students remember new words and concepts.

What Is The Frayer Model?

Frayer Model

This is a method designed to help students retain new vocabulary words. It can be used in any subject, but there are many benefits associated with this methodology used in a scientific setting since definitions alone might not be enough for complex ideas.

The Frayer template is simple. You can easily find templates online and print them, or teach students how to create templates.

All you have to do is trace a circle or an oval in the center of a page. You should then divide the page into four equal sections around the circle or oval. Each section has a different purpose.

Start by writing the vocabulary word in the center of the page. Don’t hesitate to use a color that stands out. This is the most important element of the template and students should be able to easily find their Frayer page for a specific word.

The section located in the upper left corner is where students will write the definition of the word. Students should ideally come up with a definition by themselves, but it is best to give students a definition to write down if you are working with young students.

The section located in the upper right corner is where students will list characteristics and facts associated with the vocabulary word. They can add an illustration, or make a list of essential and non-essential characteristics.

The lower left section is where students will make a list of examples. Encourage students to come up with examples themselves. Students can go back later and add more examples on their Frayer flashcard as they encounter more examples.

The lower right section is where students should list non-examples. Just like with examples, students should come up with a unique list of non-examples and add to it as they find more.

The Frayer model is interesting because it helps students connect characteristics, facts, examples, and more with each new vocabulary word. They can use the sheets as flashcards to learn new words and assess how much they know about each concept.

Encourage students to keep all their Frayer sheets in a binder or to find another way to organize their flashcards. They can use their binder to brush up on their vocabulary regularly and can keep adding more sheets to their binder as they move on to more advanced biology classes.

Ideas For Using The Frayer Model
In Your Biology Class

You need to make the Frayer templates an integral part of your lessons for students to start using this methodology. There are many different ways to introduce this model in your biology class.

Use The Frayer Model Throughout The Entire Year


You should introduce the Frayer template as early as possible in the school year and use it consistently. You can have students create a new sheet every time a new vocabulary word is introduced, but you can also have entire lessons dedicated to creating different vocabulary sheets to explore important concepts.

Here are a few examples of topics that can be explored with this methodology:

  • Classify living organisms.
  • Define concepts such as atoms, electrons, or chemical bonds.
  • Differentiate between molecules and their properties.
  • Teach students about different types of chemical reactions.
  • Go over different types of cells.
  • Teach students about the different elements of the cell.
  • Define the different elements of DNA.
  • Classify different eco-systems.
  • Talk about different human or animal behaviors.

You can also use this approach to sum up concepts like the laws of thermodynamics, photosynthesis, cell division, cell respiration, and cell signals.

A more comprehensive lesson will be needed for these concepts, but students can use a Frayer template to sum up the lesson and have a helpful flashcard for an important concept.

Talk to other teachers at your school, especially those who teach scientific subjects. Tell them about this method and encourage them to use it in their classroom as well. Students will benefit from taking classes that rely on the same methodology.

Make The Frayer Model Part Of The Lesson

Start each lesson by writing a list of new vocabulary words and concepts students are going to encounter during the lesson. Have students start a Frayer sheet for each word by writing the new word in the center.

Students will need to come up with a definition for each word by the end of the lesson. Ask them to go over their notes to find characteristics and facts about each new word or concept. They can find examples and non-examples by doing more research after the lesson.

Having these sheets to fill out during and after the lesson will help students adopt a more active attitude towards learning new vocabulary words. The Frayer methodology encourages students to look for the information they need to complete each sheet rather than simply writing down a definition.

You can go over each new word at the beginning of the next lesson to make sure the students have listed all the important characteristics and have picked accurate examples and non-examples.

Frayer Sheets As Homework


You can use the Frayer model to help students learn new vocabulary words at home. You could ask students to create a few Frayer sheets for the new words they have learned or to research vocabulary words for the next lesson.

You can either assign specific words or let students choose the concepts that were new to them. Students should have some experience with using this template before you let them create their own Frayer sheets at home.

Make your expectations clear. You can either ask students to go over the course material to find the definition, characteristics, facts, and examples they need to fill out their vocabulary sheets, or you can ask them to do some research outside of their notes to go further.

Ask a few students to list the definitions, characteristics, examples, and non-examples they found at the beginning of each class. This will give everyone an opportunity to add a few important elements they might have missed on their Frayer sheets.

The Frayer Model And Classroom Activities

There are many ways to incorporate these vocabulary sheets into classroom activities. Because it is an easy way to synthesize information, you can have students or groups of students work on different words and concepts and share this information with the rest of the class.

You could, for instance, divide the class into different groups and have each group create a detailed Frayer sheet for a phylum of the animal kingdom, a type of virus, or a type of cell. Each group can share copies of the sheet they created with the rest of the class or do a short presentation about the concept they worked on while others take notes.

You could also hand out some incomplete Frayer sheets and have some activities designed to help students discover a specific concept. The goal would be to fill out the sheet as the students complete the activity.

If you are studying plants or the animal kingdom, plan a field trip and have students focus on the examples and non-examples sections of their Frayer sheets for the different classes and phylum they are likely to encounter during the trip.

Vocabulary Games

Vocabulary Games

Introducing some vocabulary games in your classroom is a great way to encourage students to go over their Frayer sheets regularly. Playing vocabulary games motivates students and is also a great way to remind everyone of the words and concepts they have already encountered.

You could create a Frayer template on the blackboard, pick a word, and see who can list all the main characteristics associated with the word. You could also see who can come up with the most examples.

You can also list characteristics, examples, or non-examples and see who can identify the vocabulary word first.

You can make things more fun by having teams compete against each other, or by having a team pick a secret vocabulary word and provide the other team with characteristics or examples to see how quickly they can guess the word or concept.

If you want to test students on their vocabulary, you can create some Frayer sheets with most of the information filled out and have students guess the word that should be at the center. Incorporating vocabulary words in tests and quizzes will encourage students to review their Frayer sheets regularly.

The Frayer template is a great way to help students learn new vocabulary words in your biology class. This methodology will apply to many concepts your students are going to encounter, and it encourages them to actively look for definitions, characteristics, and examples for each new concept they come across.

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