Thursday, October 06, 2005

What is concept mapping?

Concept Mapping is a way of visually interpreting and understanding information. This interpretation is done through graphs, which link main concepts and there related categories. These graphs or mind maps link related information, and are easy for a visual learner to connect, in order to clarify and organize the information on paper and screen. The student is therefore able to see this information visually rather than just imagining these relationships within their minds. This concrete and visual way of organizing information allows for students to organize their thoughts more clearly for learning, writing, and presentation purposes.

Advantages of using concept mapping;

In reading over the articles provided as links, I was amazed by the number of advantages to using concept mapping. Concept mapping allows students to brainstorm their ideas, and then organize these ideas into logical categories and order. Especially for a complex concept or essay, concept mapping allows for a clearer organization of information into a concrete visual form, which becomes easier for a lot of students to then understand. Concept mapping also helps connect what students already know with new information in order to visually see students' strengths and weaknesses of understanding within a certain subject or concept. Concept maps are also flexible to allow for students' different and unique learning styles to be incorporated into the organization of their work. One of the links was quoted as saying concept mapping allows students to…"organize information in ways that are meaningful to them." Concept mapping not only helps students, but allows teachers to also increase and expand their creative efforts by having alternative ways to interpret and present information to their classes. Overall, concept mapping allows for active learning to take place both by Teachers and students within the classroom.

Disadvantages of using concept mapping;

Concept mapping clearly appeals to visual learners. Although most students are becoming visual learners within a culture of constant flashing advertisements and television shows, this still does not to imply that all students are visual learners. Concept mapping still might not appeal to students who think more clearly in their minds, are audio learners, or who are more physical learners. Students who encounter problems using the inspiration or kidspiration software might also get discouraged with the concept mapping approach.

Give an example of how you would integrate concept mapping into your classroom;

Although I was not familiar with the inspiration and kidspiration software, I’m aware of the concept of making webs or mind maps. In grade 12, my English teacher was Ms. Adair. Ms. Adair introduced me to the concept of mind mapping in order to more clearly organize my thoughts and information before I was to write an essay. This method allowed me to organize my thoughts more clearly before writing, and greatly increased my skills and grade as an English writer. Looking back, I only wish that someone had introduced me to this concept earlier in my education career. I hope that I will be able to integrate concept mapping as soon as possible with the students in my class. I would have the students incorporate this concept into, (like Ms. Adair did) their planning to write essays, to make group and individual presentations to the class, and even near the end of a unit or subject; to concept map the information that had been covered in a way that was easy for that student to comprehend. Concept mapping allows both me and my students to organize our thoughts and overcome our fear of the "blank page".

Trevor Williams


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