How to Implement the Dump and Clump Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom

Similar to list-group-label method, this vocabulary strategy involves collecting words associated with the topic of the content, sorting words into categories, and labeling categories.

Learning Outcomes

  • Introduce word meanings
  • Review word meanings


  1. Arrange learners into small groups of two to three.
  2. Pass out copies of the “Dump and Clump”graphic organizer (Click here to access all of our graphic organizer forms).
  3. “Dump” – Have learners generate a list of words related to the topic of the content. Learners record these words in the “Dumpster” box on the graphic organizer. Words are generated either by using either of these methods:
    • Brainstorming before reading the content
    • Listing words while the instructor reads the content aloud
    • Remembering words after independently reading the content
  4. “Clump” – Utilizing the “Dump” word list, learners categorize and label words from the list by writing them in the “Clumpster” boxes.
  5. Have learners write a descriptive summary phrase or sentence for each category of words.
  6. After completion, post each group’s graphic organizer on the classroom walls.


  1. The dump and clump strategymay begin as a pre-reading learning activity, but learners must return to it as they read. Your learners may find new words to add from their reading or re-label the groups of words they created.
  2. Encourage learners to discard words very cautiously, especially during the pre-reading portion of the strategy. Often the best conversation between learners centers on terms that do not instantly fall into a category.
  3. The instructor may provide the categories, or learners can create their groups, depending on the content and level of the learners.
  4. The instructor may also have each group write a summary sentence utilizing words from the graphic organizer.
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