Back to: Module: Helping with Instruction
Slide 1: This webinar looks at concept maps, story maps, and other graphic organizers. It is presented as a dialog between Emily Kresiak and Aimee Howley. Emily and Aimee take the roles of two paraprofessionals who are learning about different types of graphic organizers and want to share what they’re learning with one another.
Slide 2 (Aimee): Hi, Emily. I’m interested in what you’ve been learning about concept maps. I have a couple of questions. First, what are some uses for concept maps?
Slide 3 (Emily): Well, you probably know that concept maps are diagrams that help show the meaning of ideas and how ideas are related. They can be used to present new vocabulary or to show how one fact or interpretation fits into a larger body of knowledge. Or an educator can use a concept map to help students generate ideas in a brainstorming session. For example, an English teacher might ask something like this: “What can you tell me about poems?” One student might reply, “They rhyme.” Another might say, “They’re shorter than novels.” Another might chime in, “They use images.” All of the ideas that the students present contribute to an understanding of what a poem is, and the teacher can record their ideas using a concept map.
Slide 4 (Aimee): That’s interesting. Can you show me some examples of concept maps?
Slide 5 (Emily): Sure. Here’s a very simple concept map that shows the ideas related to the concept, “agriculture.”
Slide 6 (Emily): And here’s one that I used with a group of students to brainstorm ways to combine integers to get a sum of 9.
Slide 7 (Emily): And here’s a more complicated one that provides different kinds of information about the concept, “culture.”
Slide 8 (Aimee): I appreciate those examples. Now could you tell me how I might use a concept map as part of a lesson?
Slide 9 (Emily): Sure. I’ll give you an example of something I did with a student I was helping to learn about the US government. I developed a partially completed concept map with US government in the center and the three branches of government in the rectangles surrounding it. Then I left spaces for the student to fill in additional information about each branch of government.
Slide 10 (Emily): Even though I’ve used concept maps, I’ve never actually used a story map. They’re similar, right?
Slide 11 (Aimee): Yes, I think so. I’ve been learning to use them with middle school students. They are a little different than concept maps because they present information about the various features of a story—the features relating to how the story is put together. Story maps are usually trying to show what these features are, not necessarily how they connect. So a story map might have one section that presents information about the characters in the story, and another section that presents information about the events in the story, and a third section that presents information about the main ideas or themes of the story. Here’s an illustration using color-coding to show the different parts of a story map.
Slide 12 (Emily): It’s exciting to see how different types of graphic organizers accomplish different purposes. One type that I especially like is the flow chart, but some of those can get very complicated.
Slide 13 (Aimee): Well, what do flow charts show?
Slide 14 (Emily): Flow charts typically show the steps in a process. Sometimes they can show what happens if someone takes a particular action in a process rather than another action. But mostly the students I work with prefer the simpler ones. Just to show you how complicated they can get here’s one that seems really hard to follow.
Slide 15 (Emily): Here’s a simpler one that shows the steps in writing a short essay. Notice how one part of the process can be repeated several times.
Slide 16 (Aimee): Interesting…. The science textbook I’m using to help one of my students has a lot of simple flow charts. I’ve never asked the student to talk with me about what the flow chart is showing, but I’ll try doing that next time I work with him.
Slide 17 (Aimee): One of the types of graphic organizers I especially like is the fishbone chart. It’s used to show the different causes of an event. Here’s one I developed to use with some students to help them think about the different causes of the Revolutionary War.
Slide 18 (Emily): With younger students I’ve used T charts to show causes and effects. I’ve also used them to organize the pro and con sides of an issue. This one focuses on the pros and cons of using a calculator. When I help students review their math lessons, this is something we talk about.
Slide 19 (Aimee): That reminds me, I also use Venn diagrams. I know they come from math, but they’re great for showing how ideas overlap or don’t overlap. Here’s one that shows the properties of plants and animals. Notice that “grow” and “reproduce” are shared by both categories of living things.
Slide 20 (Emily): Speaking of overlapping, have you ever heard of “crosswalks?” I’ve heard them called “matrices,” “grids,” and “semantic feature analyses” as well.
Slide 21 (Aimee): Let’s just call them crosswalks, if you’re okay with that.
Slide 22 (Emily): Sure, that’s fine. What a crosswalk shows is how one set of things intersects with another set of things. For example, here’s one that shows the characteristics of different insects. You can see that all of the insects have six legs, have three body parts, and lay eggs; but only some of them sting and only some of them have wings.
Slide 23 (Emily): I bet we could also use a crosswalk to show the same things about plants and animals we could see on the Venn diagram.
Slide 24 (Aimee): Our conversation has convinced me that graphic organizers can be used in a lot of different ways. And they don’t always need to be created to look as polished as the ones we’ve been showing one another. Sometimes we could draw them with students using the chalkboard or a poster board. Or we could ask students to draw them on their own.
Slide 25 (Emily): That’s true. I’ve also found bunches of templates for graphic organizers by searching the Internet.
Slide 26 (Aimee): Thanks for talking with me about graphic organizers, Emily.
Slide 27 (Emily): Goodbye. I’ll catch you later.