Title: Mapping Connections
Subject: Any Subject
Level: Any age group
Type: Teaching strategy
Mapping ideas in a visual strategy, which allows learners to make connection and helps solidify understanding of concepts. Concept maps or mind maps can be used in flexible ways as part of planning, throughout learning, or as a summary to reflect understanding in a unit or project. Michelle has been using concept maps to help students demonstrate their understanding in both upperlevel science and math classes. Michelle will share her experiences as she has extended her experience in using concept-maps to planning for younger students, and options to integrate this approach. An interdisciplinary approach to learning can be well summarized in this approach and it allows for a division of roles while undertaking a project. The idea behind concept maps is very simple, but they can be used as a very powerful tool for student learning. Michelle will explore using concept maps with an assortment of age groups for a variety of purposes.
How can concept maps be used for planning projects and learning experiences?
Using concept or mind maps for planning learning activities for a project can be very beneficial for students for coming up with new ideas and making connections between concepts. Making a visual representation of the concept map will allow you revisit and elaborate as you work through a project. Topics can be assigned or come up with as a class, and once selected students should have a chance to share prior knowledge. This will hopefully lead to a series of questions to help guide future study. Research, inquiry and any experiments or trips can be planned out to answer questions. Large concept maps can also be a place to share these results as inquiries are completed as well as allow students to look back reflectively to see what they have learned and what questions they have addressed.
How to make a mindmap
Mindmaps are about helping students make meaning and connections with the concepts they are exploring. So there is not necessarily one right way to complete them, but I can provide some guidelines as a starting point. This can be done individually, as a small group, or as an entire class.
Start with the central idea in the centre. Make branches off of the central ideas to smaller subtopics. Provide content and information about the subtopics and make connections between the subtopics including pictures, charts, definitions, formulas, questions, plans, examples, and anything else that helps build understanding of the central idea. Headings and writing generally get smaller the farther away they are from the central idea.
Mindmaps allows students to make connections symbolically, pictorially and concretely
Using concept maps individually at the end of a unit of study or project will provide the teacher evidence of how the student has related different topics, and helps them organize their understanding of the concepts. Concept mapping is an extremely effective tool for helping students retain concepts. This can be used as a tool to help in reviewing, or as a summative assessment on its own. Using the vocabulary in context helps with fluency and application. Students will need various supports depending on their age. If the concept or mind map is being used for a summative mark it is important to be specific about what content is required. I will give some examples that I have used in math and physics to help students create concept maps related to a larger unit of study. Given a template this process could be adapted to be used with much younger students.
Concept and mind maps help students summarize ideas and give them meaning by drawing personal connections. They can be useful tools for teachers in planning with other teachers and students, and as a diverse assessment tool. Michelle hopes to provide you with some strategies so you can begin using concept maps in your classroom.
Conclusion: Concept and mind maps help students summarize ideas and give them meaning by drawing personal connections.
Name: Michelle Olchowski
Twitter and Pinterest @mrsolchowski
Attachments: (pdfs or google doc, powerpoint, etc.)