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How to Use Concept Mapping in the Classroom

Concept mapping is a useful instructional strategy that can benefit students in many ways. As an educator, implementing concept mapping activities into your lessons can enhance student comprehension, encourage critical thinking, and allow for creativity. In this blog post, we’ll explore five key ways to effectively use concept mapping with students in the classroom.

1. Introduce Concept Maps to Students

Before having students create their own concept maps, it’s important that they understand what concept mapping is and how it works. Take time to explain that a concept map is a visual representation that shows the relationships between ideas and concepts. Concept maps include main concepts, supporting facts and details, and linking words that connect the concepts together. Provide students with examples of basic concept maps so they can see the structure. You may even want students to analyze pre-made concept maps to familiarize them with how to read the maps before making their own.

2. Use Concept Mapping for Brainstorming

One of the most useful applications of concept mapping is using it as a brainstorming technique. When starting a new unit or introducing a complex topic, have students create a simple concept map to generate ideas. This allows students to organize their prior knowledge and think critically about how ideas fit together. You can also have students add to their brainstorming concept map as they learn new concepts within the unit. The map will grow in complexity and give students a big picture view of how ideas interconnect.

3. Create Collaborative Concept Maps

Concept mapping lends itself well to collaborative work. After initial instruction on a topic, break students into small groups and have them work together to create a concept map that represents their collective knowledge. As groups share out their concept maps, the whole class can discuss similarities and differences, expanding their understanding. You can repeat this activity at the end of a unit to see how student concept maps have grown. Collaboration promotes dialogue, debate, and compromise as students decide on concepts to include and how to link them.

4. Use Concept Mapping to Prepare for Assessments

Having students create a concept map to study before an exam helps them organize information and make connections between concepts. The visual representation and structure of a concept map makes it easier to recall key facts during an assessment. You can even have students exchange concept maps to use as a study aid. When students need to explain concepts thoroughly in an essay, beginning with a concept map gets them visualizing relationships between ideas that can then be expanded into an organized written response.

5. Incorporate Concept Map Creation Tools

Technology can make concept mapping more engaging for students. There are many digital tools and online concept map maker tools that provide templates and allow for creativity. After introducing students to concept mapping using pen and paper, letting them use technology appeals to different learning styles and allows for neater, more polished concept maps. Sharing their creations digitally also gets students more excited about concept mapping.

Concept maps are adaptable to nearly any learning objective and can be used across all grade levels and content areas. Start implementing some of these techniques to see how concept mapping boosts student comprehension, critical thinking, and synthesis of subject matter.

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