Want to increase brain activity in your students,  encourage active comprehension and step-up dynamic discussions in the classroom?  It all can be done with one simple activity of concept mapping.

Today’s idea uses  the software Inspiration 8 (installed on all teacher machines on campus) and your projector.  The document camera can also be incorporated as student’s share the maps they have created.



Why use Inspiration?

  1. It’s easy and already loaded on all teacher machines on campus.
  2. Inspiration provides pre-made templates to get the concept map going for the big screen (choose New – From Template to see the options)
  3. Keeps the map organized and easy to read for the class.
  4. Circles can be changed to clip art for more of a visual impact.
  5. Brainstorming is easy with the lightening bolt icon.
  6. Maps and ideas can be easily rearranged without starting over.
  7. Finished products can be saved as Word files and placed online for those who missed the class.

Ideas on How to Use Concept Mapping in the Classroom:

As a reading strategy:

1. Pre-reading:  have students brainstorm what they know about the items listed on the skelton concept map.  Add those ideas in and have students record on their own papers.

2. During Reading – Students then read the assigned passage and add in more details as they learn them.

3. Post reading – Compare maps with the class and add in details students might have missed.  (Use the document camera to show student’s original maps.)

Extension:

    • Sub-topics can be recorded on note-cards and students can add in more details about that topic as they read/learn more
    • Cards can then be turned into a paragraphs within a research paper.
    • Each sub-topic could become a research topic for the class.

As a note-taking strategy:

  1. Give students a partially filled concept map and have them add to it as you discuss, research, etc. the topic given.
  2. Have students create their own map of the story/event with main characters/main events in ech sub-circle and details surrounding from there.

Getting Started:

Download a how-to guide for Inspiration 8:  How to Use Inspiration 8

Watch a quick tutorial on the software here:

Documentation and research on using concept mapping in the classroom is based from “Classroom Instruction that Works” by Robert Marzano and Project Criss.