Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Connecting Organic Chemistry to the Food We Eat (Day 2 of 5) - Section 3: The Classroom Flow: Concept Mapping

 

The use of concept maps in my class is new for me this year and students report back that learning to look at our content in more non-linear formats as increased their ability to make connections between concepts and to better compare and contrast content related terminology for each unit.  For me, using concept maps with student groups is especially powerful because it requires group collaboration and engagement in this shared task.  Unlike more structured activities where individual students can be assigned roles in the group they can complete on their own with no interaction or feedback, the concept maps require all voices to be heard and accounted for. 

What we know about learning and the brain supports the use of this kind of activity to boost retention as well as comprehension.  By attaching personally meaningful graphics and color choices to the content students discuss and represent on the map, they enhance their memory and recall of the concept, even if the icon has no scientific connection to the concept!  We also know that humans are drawn to and impacted by color and that using color also helps with memory.

Concept maps are a great tool to support language learners due to the way each concept in a bubble connects to other concepts in bubbles with images for reinforcement.

In addition to using concept maps as a planning tool as we did here for this project, my students and I have also used concept maps where we focus primarily on word association.  For the cell unit, I gave a list of vocabulary words for students to represent on their map in three zones:  closest to the center (most related to central topic), middle zone from center (somewhat important), and the outer ring (detail only).  Students then connected the words across all zones with arrows and wrote on the top of each arrow why they were linking the terms.  You could simplify the vocabulary list for language learner groups or take it away altogether for expert readers who would enjoy the challenge of generating their own list of terms.

I would love to hear more about the ways you and your students have used concept maps!

  More on Concept Mapping as a Tool for Learning
  Adjustments to Practice: More on Concept Mapping as a Tool for Learning
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Connecting Organic Chemistry to the Food We Eat (Day 2 of 5)

Unit 4: Unit 4: Molecules of Life: Organic Chemistry
Lesson 12 of 15

Objective: Students will be able to research, discuss, and present information about current food topics and connect them to our organic chemistry unit.

Big Idea: Dig into food science topics with this project to connect student experiences to organic chemistry and the world!

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Subject(s):
Science, food (Personal Health), Organic and Biochemistry, Life Science/Biology, calories, senses, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, processed foods, GMOs, molecule
  50 minutes
benefits of cooking food sci project process work concept
 
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