About This Teaching Strategy
A concept map is a visual representation of a topic that students can create using words, phrases, lines, arrows, space on the page, and perhaps color to help organize their ideas and show their understanding of an idea, vocabulary term, or essential question. Students first respond to a topic (an idea, term, or essential question) by brainstorming a list of words, phrases, or ideas they associate with it. Then, they sort and arrange the items in their list visually on a page to represent both the items’ relationships to the topic and to each other. The result is a visual representation of students’ thinking about the idea, term, or question. This strategy provides an effective way to introduce big ideas to the class and capture their initial thinking. Students can then return to their concept maps over the course of a lesson or unit to revise them, providing a way for both the teacher and students to track individual understanding and growth.