Connect : The thinking routine of "Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate:Concept Maps" reminds me of the traditional K-W-L, except that the it adds the extra layer of connecting concepts in a visual way. There were many "ah-ha's" in my room when my third grade students did this work.
The routine begins with activating prior knowledge and generating a list of ideas/words/phrases that come to mind about a particular topic. We did this prior to a field trip to the Colorado foothills. On a separate sheet, students created a list of what they know about Colorado.
The sort included grouping into larger ideas or subheadings. Once they had a sense of the main ideas, the students placed the words on a concept map. The most central were placed toward the center, while the tangential ideas were located toward the outside of the paper.
Extend: This is when it became fun, the students looked at their concepts and connected concepts. Using the example above, the student connected fish from the animal category to the activity of fishing and the environmental lakes.
We went to the foothills and took notes from our experiential learning trip. This is where the elaborate component provided a meaningful way to reflect upon new learning. The students were proud to develop their concepts map with all of their new knowledge.
Challenge: I will use this routine before new units in the future. It was a great success! I want to remember to use a different color for the elaborate component. It would help highlight new learning. As a teacher, the challenge is to create a significant learning event and the time to connect, reflect and deepen student understandings.