J.C. Lewis, York, PA
Using a concept map as a chapter closure activity is one of my favorite ways to conclude a chapter, especially one that has introduced (or reintroduced) a number of vocabulary words. However, chapter closure can be a chaotic time in my classroom, as I often have any number of students working on different activities based on their individual or team needs. I find some students fly through multiple closure activities while others need that extra processing time, especially as we get closer to a chapter test. Additionally, I am constantly trying to find ways to unlock deeper connections with the relevant content and vocabulary for all of my students. To help solve these problems, I have employed a concept map extension.
This closure activity begins just like any concept map, as teams are asked to not only draw arrows indicating connections from one vocabulary word (card) to another, but also succinctly write what they believe those connections to be. The extension occurs once the maps have been completed as teams are asked to first take a picture of their completed product to refer back to as an answer key. Then, teams take the vocabulary words off of their maps, leaving only the arrows and connections. The maps can then be traded, rotated, or shared with new teams attempting to put the map back together again.
As you plan out how you might personally use this extension in your own classroom, consider providing students with pre-made vocabulary cards in addition to a few blank cards in the event that they get on a roll and want to extend their thought process. If you wish to actually display the concept maps around the room, using sticky notes for the vocabulary cards works effectively. Finally, regardless of how you have your teams share their maps, this extension works well immediately following the completion of the maps, after another closure activity has been completed, as an extension for a group that works through another lesson or activity quickly, or even as a review activity later in the year (before a final exam, for example).
After using this extension repeatedly in my classroom I’ve found that it not only unlocks some more meaningful connections but also raises the expectations for each team. They now know another team will be relying on the connections they have made to reassemble their map. Hopefully, the concept map extension will help your students engage in more genuine mathematical dialogue as well as gain a better understanding of the vocabulary they see each and every day in your classroom.