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Faculty and staff Chairs and directors Postdoctoral fellows Graduate students. Since then, software programs have come to facilitate the creation and sharing of concept maps; some programs also allow several users to collaborate on the same concept map. Concept maps can have varying degrees of hierarchy or structure, as seen in this video. Concept mapping forces students to identify connections, and apprehend them more deeply, than traditional approaches such as reading or writing about a concept.
Additionally, concept mapping makes use of dual coding; that is, the students learn the material both from the text labels found on the concept map as well as the visual structure of the map. For some students, concept mapping can ease their cognitive load by allowing them to focus on essential relationships, rather than on decoding a written text. My students are used to it and enjoy doing them. I was teaching my class about solubility. The students have been investigating the solubility of different substances in water and how the temperature affects how much of a substance will dissolve.
Some students find this topic difficult, because there are so many terms and concepts that they get confused. To help reinforce the key ideas in this topic, I created a concept map of the topic and drew it on the blackboard, but without the lines and links [Resource 5]. The students worked in small groups of three or four to complete the map. The students enjoyed this activity and it was very useful for them. It helped them to learn about the terms and concepts, and it also gave them a diagrammatic view rather than lots of notes.
I had to help some groups of students by asking questions to get them to focus on pairs or words and help them remember what they had done in class, but all groups completed the concept map. Why is the way that Mrs Kapur used the concept map more of a teaching strategy than an assessment for learning strategy? Concept maps are always useful in finding out what your students understand so that you can then adapt your teaching. Concept mapping is therefore a very useful assessment for learning strategy. However, when your students work in groups to create a concept map, it will not tell you what the individuals understand.
Its value therefore is more in discussing and sharing ideas. You are now going to teach a lesson with your class using concept mapping. You can only do this after you have taught your students how to create a concept map. You will need to decide the purpose of the concept map activity beforehand. For example, will you use it to:.
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Before your students do the concept mapping activity, you will need to remind them of how to construct a concept map. Concept mapping can take some time to do. The time you need to allow for the activity will depend on the nature of the task you choose to do. It is a good idea to try it yourself before the lesson. As your students construct their concept maps, you must circulate the classroom and check that they understand what they have to do, helping them if they have problems.
You may even sit and work with a group if they are struggling to make links. After completing the concept map activity, think about and make notes on the following questions:.
What this unit is about
There is no one correct way of creating a concept map and there is no one correct map for any given topic or set of concept. In this way, a concept map is unique to the individual or group that creates it. You can adapt concept mapping to your class and use it in a number of ways. It is also a useful teaching strategy that you can use to help students learn through small groupwork and discussion.
What are Concept Maps and how do you use them in the Classroom?
However you decide to use concept maps, your students will need to be taught how to create a concept map. It is worth investing time in doing this, because once students have grasped the principle of concept mapping, it is a very worthwhile and useful technique to use in your teaching.
As a teacher, you will get the best out of your students if you attend to the four points above in every lesson. Thus assessment can be undertaken before, during and after instruction:. When you decide what the students must learn in a lesson or series of lessons, you need to share this with them. Carefully distinguish what the students are expected to learn from what you are asking them to do. Ask an open question that gives you the chance to assess whether they have really understood. Give the students a few seconds to think before they answer, or perhaps ask the students to first discuss their answers in pairs or small groups.
When they tell you their answer, you will know whether they understand what it is they have to learn. In order to help your students improve, both you and they need to know the current state of their knowledge and understanding. Once you have shared the intended learning outcomes or goals, you could do the following:.
Knowing where to start will mean that you can plan lessons that are relevant and constructive for your students. It is also important that your students are able to assess how well they are learning so that both you and they know what they need to learn next. Providing opportunities for your students to take charge of their own learning will help to make them life-long learners. When you talk to students about their current progress, make sure that they find your feedback both useful and constructive.
You will also need to provide opportunities for students to improve their learning. This means that you may have to modify your lesson plans to close the gap between where your students are now in their learning and where you wish them to be. In order to do this you might have to:. By slowing the pace of lessons down, very often you can actually speed up learning because you give students the time and confidence to think and understand what they need to do to improve.
By letting students talk about their work among themselves, and reflect on where the gaps are and how they might close them, you are providing them with ways to assess themselves. While teaching—learning is taking place and after setting a classwork or homework task, it is important to:. Every student learns differently, at their own pace and style, both inside and outside the school. Therefore, you need to do two things while assessing students:. There are some simple ways of doing this that you may like to consider, such as:. Once information and evidence have been collected and recorded, it is important to interpret it in order to form an understanding of how each student is learning and progressing.
This requires careful reflection and analysis. You then need to act on your findings to improve learning, maybe through feedback to students or finding new resources, rearranging the groups, or repeating a learning point. Assessment can help you to provide meaningful learning opportunities to every student by establishing specific and differentiated learning activities, giving attention to the students who need more help and challenging the students who are more advanced.
There is not one way to construct a concept map. However, there are some key principles that need to be kept in mind:. The following instructions to construct a concept map are adapted from Probing Understanding by White and Gunstone Good lessons have to be planned.
One more step
Planning helps to make your lessons clear and well-timed, meaning that students can be active and interested. Working on a plan for a series of lessons involves knowing the students and their prior learning, what it means to progress through the curriculum, and finding the best resources and activities to help students learn.
Planning is a continual process to help you prepare both individual lessons as well as series of lessons, each one building on the last. The stages of lesson planning are:. When you are following a curriculum, the first part of planning is working out how best to break up subjects and topics in the curriculum into sections or chunks.
You need to consider the time available as well as ways for students to make progress and build up skills and knowledge gradually. Your experience or discussions with colleagues may tell you that one topic will take up four lessons, but another topic will only take two. You may be aware that you will want to return to that learning in different ways and at different times in future lessons, when other topics are covered or the subject is extended. You will want to make learning active and interesting so that students feel comfortable and curious.
Consider what the students will be asked to do across the series of lessons so that you build in variety and interest, but also flexibility.
Be prepared to be flexible if some areas take longer or are grasped quickly. After you have planned the series of lessons, each individual lesson will have to be planned based on the progress that students have made up to that point. You know what the students should have learnt or should be able to do at the end of the series of lessons, but you may have needed to re-cap something unexpected or move on more quickly.
Therefore each individual lesson must be planned so that all your students make progress and feel successful and included. Within the lesson plan you should make sure that there is enough time for each of the activities and that any resources are ready, such as those for practical work or active groupwork. As part of planning materials for large classes you may need to plan different questions and activities for different groups. When you are teaching new topics, you may need to make time to practise and talk through the ideas with other teachers so that you are confident.
At the start of a lesson, explain to the students what they will learn and do, so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
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Get the students interested in what they are about to learn by allowing them to share what they know already. Outline the content based on what students already know. You may decide to use local resources, new information or active methods including groupwork or problem solving. Identify the resources to use and the way that you will make use of your classroom space. Using a variety of activities, resources, and timings is an important part of lesson planning. Always allow time either during or at the end of the lesson to find out how much progress has been made.
Checking does not always mean a test. A good way to end the lesson can be to return to the goals at the start and allowing time for the students to tell each other and you about their progress with that learning. Listening to the students will make sure you know what to plan for the next lesson. Look back over each lesson and keep a record of what you did, what your students learnt, what resources were used and how well it went so that you can make improvements or adjustments to your plans for subsequent lessons.
For example, you may decide to:. Your lesson plans will inevitably change as you go through each lesson, because you cannot predict everything that will happen. Also, they do not always have to construct a map themselves. You can use concept maps in the following ways:. Except for third party materials and otherwise stated below, this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence http: The material acknowledged below is Proprietary and used under licence for this project, and not subject to the Creative Commons Licence.
Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce the material in this unit:. Every effort has been made to contact copyright owners. If any have been inadvertently overlooked the publishers will be pleased to make the necessary arrangements at the first opportunity. Video including video stills: Figure 1 An example of a concept map.
What you can learn in this unit
What you can learn in this unit How to construct a concept map. How to introduce concept mapping to your students to help them explore their own understanding. Concept mapping is important because it can: Developing a simple concept map Before you learn more about using concepts maps in your teaching, you need to understand the nature of the process of producing a map. Read this first and then construct your own concept using the following concepts: Now answer these questions: How does this process elicit understanding?
The relationships are specified using linking words written on the lines.
Most concepts maps are hierarchical in nature, with the related topics branching out from the main one. They are also flexible, allowing for change and addition of new concepts.
TI-AIE: Concept mapping: water: View as single page
However, the relationship between the concepts and ideas always remain the same. Students can be taught concept mapping using these five simple steps:.
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