Archive for the 'Concept Map' Category

Graphic Organizer and Student Writing

This semester has reaffirmed that students who complete a graphic organizer are better essay writers. They have pre-organized their ideas and many even do a quick check to verify that everything fits where it should and there are no duplicates of the same idea. They are not “winging” it. When students write down random ideas and call it an outline, their writing gets very random.
Next semester, I am going to go even heavier on the graphic organizer. I will only accept their essays if they have completed their thesis statement, three pieces of evidence and the supporting details on their graphic organizer. For some writing assignments, I have elongated a graphic organizer to cover two pages so that they do not run out of writing space. Most of the students who had learning gaps this semester had thinking learning gaps; they did not have enough evidence or they did not have details to support their thesis. Some students had grammar learning gaps but even then I could understand their ideas or lack of ideas.

I want to reduce their revisions or rather make their revisions to change from being proficient to above proficient instead of going from below proficient to barely proficient. I hope to raise the bar for them.

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Student Checkpoints: Great for Diagnosis and Feedback

My college students are starting the research paper phase of the writing course. I have built in many checkpoints for the first few classes. They are to show me their thesis that they could select from a page and a half listing or make up their own. I helped about 25% complete or modify their thesis. Many selected the questions such as “Should the government provide child day care centers for working parents?” but they did not put in their position such as “The government should provide child day care centers for working parents”.

Next I asked them to complete a graphic organizer of what they think the possible supporting topics are and to show it to me. About 20% have put down topics that do not support the thesis but are a variation on the topic. In fact, they modify their thesis after re-examining their topics. One student has “Gays should be admitted into the military” but for his topics he has “distinguished military record”, “daily duties”, “friendships”, and “advancement”. He modifies his thesis to “Gays deserve equal treatment in the military”

The more times we build in checkpoints, the more we can diagnose and give formative feedback to our students.

How many checkpoints do you have in the unit you are presently teaching?

Graphic Organizers/Concept Maps – Limiting or Encouraging Thinking?

I made a concept map that I thought would help the students in their writing. As I observed the students, I realized that my concept map actually stopped their thinking. When students have a paper concept map, they stop when all the bubbles, boxes, or lines are filled in. When they have an online one with bubbles, boxes or lines, they do the same. They fill in the bubbles, boxes or lines and they stop thinking. However, often these concept maps are just the start of the students’ thinking about the topic. The concept maps are more like a writing prompt than the actual writing.

I realize that my concept map did not have enough boxes, bubbles or lines to guide the students to explore the writing topic more thoroughly. Likewise the boxes, bubbles or lines were too small. Once the students have written something that fills the boxes, bubbles, or lines, they stop writing. The boxes, bubbles or lines confine the students.

Cause Effect concept map

This concept map needs to be extended to include the three major examples and the details that the students will use to prove each cause or effect. The concept map will double in size. In addition, if I am using a paper version, I will stretch it out to be a full page so that the students have plenty of writing space. Bigger spaces equals more room for thinking.

What do your concept maps look like? Do they encourage additional thinking or do they stop the students’ thinking?

Concept Maps Create Focus

Many of my Composition students have said that they have the most problems in deciding on a topic.  I think that they cannot get a handle on a topic.  I had them use a technique last night that I call “Try it for three minutes.”  We were doing cause and effect writing. I gave them a list of topics and asked them to pick any topic that seemed somewhat interesting to them. Then I asked them to spend three minutes to complete a graphic organizer for either causes or effects. There was a bubble for the topic and then three big rectangles (one for each category) and then three smaller rectangles for each category (for the examples).  If they did not like the results, they could pick another topic. Almost every student had the topic, categories and many of the examples in three minutes.  They could see what they had and what they needed. They could see the connection among their ideas.  They all said that they would write about the topic for which they had just completed the concept map.  Sometimes students think aimlessly; a concept map focuses their thinking.

How do you use concept maps to focus your students’ learning

Where are Multiple Concept Maps For Paragraph Writing?

Maybe I am forgetting my good web research skills but I cannot find a website that lists the various types of writing and the concept maps that support each type of writing. I can find general concept map sites and I can find a lesson plan for a particular concept map for a specific type of writing. I’m trying to give my students two different concept maps for each type of writing. For example, for narrative writing I have a time line concept map and a  downward sequencing concept map.   For compare and contrast  I have similarities/differences boxes and  a point by point /topic analysis chart. My hope is that one of these two will appeal to my students so that they will be better able to organize their ideas and, therefore, write better.

What sites do you know that offering various concept maps for each type of paragraph writing?

Concept Maps – Yours or the Students’ Learning

Some high school teachers were sharing the success of using concept maps in their classes. These teachers had created their concept maps in Inspiration. They were proud that their students could complete the concept maps.

I wonder if they had their students create their own concept map from scratch. Do they allow students to select which type concept map they will use to display their learning? Do they allow their students the growth opportunity to decide what to include on the map? Do they allow students to work through the creation of the concept map as they learn information or concepts over time? Do they allow students to own their own learning instead of doing a “fill-in-the-blank” type of teacher given concept map?

What experiences have you had with your students creating their own concept maps?

Some Free Concept Mapping Programs

Gliffy(Gliffy)

Thanks to Freeware resources, you and your students can use concept mapping programs in school and at home for free. You can map out your ideas and structure your higher level thinking activities.

Online

Bubb.us can create a bubble concept map with ease. Each box has several icons: + to move the icon; X to remove it; color icon to change the color; folder for a sibling folder; folder for a new child balloon; and a paper clip to attach a bubble to another bubble. It is quick to use. However, I did not see how to format the text. The maps can be exported. It is primarily text-based.

Gliffy Online allows you to create three private and unlimited public maps in the free version. Its many shapes are drag and drop. You can change the color of the font and the background of any shape. You can eliminate the background grid. To make it public, click on Share and Public. It appears the closest to the Inspiration program that many teachers are familiar with.

Download Program

Compendium uses a node metaphor. There are drag and drop icons for questions, answers (argument, pro, con) notes, and references (actual docs like pdf, PowerPoint, weblink), strategy, activity, etc. You can easily link from one item to another. Has a great tutorial.

Cmap tools permits a map within a map. A primary item usually has a proposition (phrase connecting one item to another). It is primarily text based. This program is supported by several universities.

Additional programs are briefly listed in Wikipedia

Now you can do concept maps at home, your students can do them at home, and you and the students can do concept maps on any school computer even if it does not have have Inspiration.

Map On! Think On!

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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