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This year I’m trying a new method of introducing, and keeping students familiar with, our course terms and themes. With over 100 terms/themes combined, I thought all summer long about what was the best way to tackle this undertaking.

And then it hit me: concept maps. According to Inspiration.com, “a concept map is a type of graphic organizer used to help students organize and represent knowledge of a subject. Concept maps begin with a main idea (or concept) and then branch out to show how that main idea can be broken down into specific topics.”

Running with this idea, I printed all of the first semester terms/themes onto card stock and then jumbled the order in which they occur in US history. Next, I asked students to work in groups to attempt to place these terms/themes into chronological order. By attempting to create their own concept web, students gained a first look at what they’ll be learning over the next few months, and I, as their teacher, gained insight as to who was already familiar with certain terms and who was not (formative assessment).Students will continue to work in teams on these concept maps throughout the semester, before and after every unit, in fact. Once terms/themes have been learned, they will flip the card over to the darker side, indicating they recall having learned the word. I’m pretty excited to see their growth in mapping out terms/themes as the semester progresses. I’ll keep you updated!

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