Friday, December 14, 2012

Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate:Concept Maps

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.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that there is so much more thinking going on with this routine as opposed to a traditional KWL. I have used concept maps in my classroom quite a bit but especially like this routine because of the focus on connections. I have always thought of the concept map as growing outward for new thinking and yet my aha after reading your post is that the new thinking comes from the relationships between the ideas. Here kids have the chance to synthesize and analyize which is where the learning occurs. My issue is that Concept maps are challenging for ECE-ers because the children cannot read and as a result can become so teacher intensive with pictures etc. My challenge is finding a visual way to use them for my students so they can go back to them and make those connections. Thanks for sharing!