January 9, 2015

Concept Maps

The semester is coming to a close so I assigned a concept map to my PreCalc students. We have been studying trigonometry so their task was to take all the concepts of trigonometry and make connections.

I started by giving them three minutes to independently list the topics they have studied this semester. They were encouraged to do it by memory first, and then to flip through their notes to see what they missed. At the end of three minutes of silence I collected all of their ideas on the board. I purposefully spread them out and grouped like ideas together. Then I showed them this:



This map is unrelated to anything we've studied this year, but it shows what I expect from a concept map - both topics and connections. Since we did this on the last day of class before break they had the option of completing their map in class or building a fractal with me and completing their map for homework.

When we got back from break I got some awesome maps!


I didn't get a complete photo,
but he included a concept graveyard!!

But those are the only completed maps I received. And while my classes are small this year, I don't have a class of three. So I took all of the topics they included (as well as the students who handed me admittedly incomplete assignments) and made a table of concepts. The students who still needed to complete the assignment then had the option to use the existing concepts (I printed the table and they were responsible for cutting) and organize them into a map. So far I have one of those, and it looks equally awesome:



It is encouraging to see students making connections that I didn't specifically highlight. And having the whole semester on one page has to help students get some perspective as they head into studying for midterms. I was hoping to do a gallery walk so students could see connections they may have missed, but the lack of follow through in this class was rather prohibitive. I think I made the best of the situation though, and there might just be time for one next week if a lot of students surprise me on Monday!

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