Written by Eric J. Simon, New England College; Shane Evans; LBW Community College; Caroline McNutt, Schoolcraft College; Jody Hibma, Minnesota State Community and Technical College; Robert Maynard, Pearl River Community College
- Students will become familiar with the methods of creating concept maps to aid learning
Activity Description: Students are presented with a basic concept mapping activity to familiarize them with the technique. After creating individual concept maps based on a personal hobby, students are grouped to exchange and combine maps. This activity scaffolds basic concept map construction of a familiar topic with more complex tasks such as combining concept maps.
Time Needed: 20 minutes
Materials Needed: Writing implements and surface (chalk if using soapstone desks/tables, craft paper for regular desks/tables), index cards, permanent markers
Activity Instructions: Concept maps are an excellent means of teaching vocabulary terms to students and helping them see the connections between terms. But most students are unfamiliar with the construction of concept maps and require practice before they can be useful. This activity is intended to give students such practice using terms that are very familiar to them.
Start by instructing every student to think of a personal hobby, something about which they know more than the average person. Pass out index cards (5 per student) and ask students to write one term relating to their hobby per index. Students should write the term in big bold letters so that they can be read from a distance. Next, have the students arrange the index cards on their writing surface. Students should then connect each index card to at least one other by drawing a line between them. Students may slide cards around to rearrange them as they construct their concept map. Once they like the arrangement of the terms, students should write phrases on each connecting line that connects the two terms in a logical, meaningful way. For example, if a student enjoys fishing, the terms “pole” and “rod” might be connected by the phrase “attached to” so that it reads “pole attached to rod”.
After approximately 10 minutes, each student should have created a concept map for their hobby. Ask students to state their hobbies out loud and form groups that shared the same hobby. The members of the group should view and comment on each other’s concept maps. This portion of the activity emphasizes that there is no “correct” concept map; as long as terms are connected in logically meaningful ways, and as long as the connecting phrases are correct, all concept maps are equally valid. Ask students to comment on each other’s concept maps.
As a final step in this activity, ask students to combine separate concept maps into one “master” concept map for that activity. Presumably, two students with the same hobby will have some repeated terms. For these, just choose one card. Students can place all of the unique terms into a single large map that represents a broader take on that hobby.
End the activity by having groups share their concepts maps with other groups.
Be sure to write this clearly so others can follow. Consider including additional information such as how students might respond or alternative ways to do this in different sized classrooms.
Assessment: You may wish to have students copy their final concept map onto paper for handing in and evaluation. Provide feedback if a proper concept map format is not followed.