Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Love of Concept Maps

The Whole Concept Map
I have a secret love for concept mapping.  Not only do I enjoy making them but I truly enjoy watching a class of students all create different concept maps on the exact same topic.  It's so interesting to see how each individual interprets a broad topic in such different ways.  The best part about it is that since it is how a person makes sense of a topic, they aren't done incorrectly....well for the most part.
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Concept mapping is generally done with information in boxes or circles connected by lines that are labeled.  This type of activity is easily done in both Science and Social Studies classes, I usually use them in the Science classes
that I teach.  However, this year I decided to have my basic math kids concept map our entire Fractions Unit.

Now for all of my basic math students this is the first time they had ever done a concept map, and many of them struggled through it and they came out a mess.  Which for me is GREAT!  They are suppose to be messy.
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These are pictures of the one I had created.  I will update this post later with some student created concept maps, but some were hard to read/understand in person, and it was way worse in a picture.

In the past I have always done them on paper, and many times I still do.  I enjoy hanging them up around my room and having students keep adding to it each day.

Two years ago I got a classroom set of netbook computers and we were asked to implement them into our classrooms as much as possible.  I started off by taking something I already do in my classroom and do it on the computer instead.
Concept mapping was the first thing I started with.

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There are many different concept mapping tools out there, many of them free!  The few that I have used in my room and that my students enjoy are Concept Board, Popplet, and Mindomo.

My students prefer those three over any of the others because they can insert pictures into them.  Many of the concept mapping/mind mapping tools out there don't allow you to put pictures into them.   These three are also extremely easy to use.  Also some of them limit how many maps you can make with a free account.  After awhile a student can delete their old ones but mine like to keep theirs.

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Do you concept map/mind map in your classroom?  If so how do you feel about them?  How about your students?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Coordinate Plane

Before winter break I introduced the Coordinate Plane to my Algebra class.  Let's just say working with a number line was challenging enough for a few of my students but now we combined two number lines together to form a Coordinate Plane was pretty unheard of by some of them.  Trying to explain this to a few of them resulted in me getting looks like I had grew horns and shot fire out of my mouth.  We pushed through and in the end I became Ms. O again.

 Students were given a double sided page where they cut on the dotted lines and folded on the solid ones.  It created a four flap foldable where each flap was one of the four quadrants.  I added the font so all they had to do was color it in.

When you open up each of the flaps it reveals that quadrant on a coordinate plane.  On the inside of the flap is where students filled out information about that specific quadrant.

In the middle was grid paper where the students created the two number lines and labeled the different parts of the coordinate plane. We then practiced plotting and naming points in each of the quadrants.

For the right side of their notebooks I gave them two graphs, one blank and one with points.  The top graph (blank) is where I gave them points and they had to plot them.  The bottom graph (with points) is where the students had to practice naming them.

For homework that night I have them those fun sheets where they plot the points and it forms animals or easily recognizable objects.  The kids loved these because they knew right way if they did it right or not.  I found a few on MathCrush.
It was pretty interesting to see what some of my students came up with when they returned.  A few had some deformed fish or birds, so I knew they needed more practice but everyone else knew what to do and was ready to move on.

Here are the links to the foldable, it's two pages that you print off double sided.  Everything lines up correctly.  Enjoy!

Coordinate Plane Interior
Coordinate Plane Exterior
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