Monday, December 17, 2012

Concept Mapping

My class was studying evolution last week. We had started with genetics the week before and I was really working to help them connect all the ideas to see that we weren't studying two different topics, but two different parts of one topic. Well, they were supposed to take a test on evolution on Friday, but they just weren't ready. I spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about how I could help them put all of these different ideas together.

The entire 7th grade science team focused on graphic organizers to cover this specific section of the textbook, but the kids just weren't understanding that this technique was supposed to help them understand the material. I decided to show them just how helpful a graphic organizer can be by creating a concept map of genetics and evolution. I started out with sexual and asexual reproduction and mutations (the place we started two weeks ago) and as we moved through to different concepts I made sure to explain the concept and how it fit in the big picture. It was so great to look up and see understanding on faces for the first time! (Of course there were still some lost looks...)

A concept map is a great tool, but I don't think it would have been helpful any earlier. In order to connect ideas the kids have to have a place to start. It would be an interesting idea to teach based on the concept map from the beginning - give kids a complete map with the big ideas on it. They could see how things were connected and that might help them understand each idea better...

This is something I have to think about this break. I will be mapping out my lessons for "Natural Disasters" and I think giving them the big picture first might help. Of course I have kids that might get overwhelmed by this and not use it as a helpful tool...

I personally love graphic organizers - this is literally how I think in my head. I am constantly making connections between what I am learning (because I am always learning something new) and what I already know. It is amazing how much good information I have gotten from tv shows over the years :) - I am always thinking back to random episodes of Saved by the Bell or FRIENDS or whatever!

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