Concept Maps in the Classroom

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, “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 Continue reading “Concept Maps in the Classroom”

First Semester Final Exam

Before we all left for Christmas break students took a final exam in US History. The classes were given 69 terms which spanned the entire first semester’s educational learning and were asked to create a concept web with them. According to, a concept map/web is used as a

learning and teaching technique, to visually illustrate the relationships between concepts and ideas. Often represented in circles or boxes, concepts are linked by words and phrases that explain the connection between the ideas, helping students organize and structure their thoughts to further understand information and discover new relationships. Most concept maps represent a hierarchical structure, with the overall, broad concept first with connected sub-topics, more specific concepts, following.

20170108_101658_001This visual representation of their learning asked students to apply and analyze the information they learned about US history thus far by categorizing, comparing and contrasting, and organizing the terms into chronological order, connecting terms into relationships, and creating larger concept umbrellas. For example, a student should be able to place the term “Gettysburg” after “Yorktown,” connect the two with the word “warfare,” and perhaps further umbrella all three terms with a fourth, such as “faith,” “hope”, “African-Americans,” or “Native Americans,” depending on their train of thought and rationale.

Here are a few photos of the end result. Next time I’ll provide white butcher paper so that I can read their work easier. Smiling!