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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Concept star

Thinking and Metacognitive Strategies: Concept star

ESOL Principles:

Most strategies can be used to support all seven of the ESOL principles dependent upon how the teacher decides to use the strategy within their teaching and learning planning cycle. This strategy is usually used to support:

Principle 1: Know the learner- finding out about learners’ language and schooling backgrounds and their prior knowledge, using approaches that build on prior knowledge. What do you know about your students' language skills? What do you know about their prior knowledge? How will you find out this information? How will it affect your planning?

Principle 3: Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes?

Principle 5: Provide multiple opportunities for authentic language use with a focus on students using academic language. Is the language focus on key language? Do I make sure the students have many opportunities to notice and use new language?


A concept star is a type of graphic organiser that is used to condense and organize data about multiple traits, facts, or attributes associated with a single topic or concept. Star diagrams are useful for basic brainstorming about a topic or simply listing all the major traits related to a theme. It is a thinking organiser that can be used with all the language modes, either as an individual task or in pairs or groups. It is particularly useful as a pre-reading activity to encourage prediction skills and build vocabulary.

video icon Primary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 3 - Visual Arts Year 5-6.

video icon Secondary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 2 - Social Studies, Year 10.

Teaching and learning sequence examples:

Primary level:

  • Siapo – Visual Arts, year 5-6

Secondary level:

Some possible Teacher Inquiry questions:

  • In my classroom, in this context, is the concept star task best used as an individual, pair or group activity?
  • Has the use of the concept star organiser helped my students to think more deeply and perform better on the learning task? How do I know this?


  • Making language and learning work: Integrating language and learning in Years 5 to 8, DVD 3, facilitation notes

Useful websites:

Published on: 19 Jun 2012