Introduction to the Tree Map

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SWBAT use a tree map to categorize pictures with different short vowel sounds.

Big Idea

This lesson will help to teach your students how to use a tree map. Once they learn this map they will be able to categorize and use this map in many subject areas.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

The tree map is another one of the eight Thinking Maps. This map is used for categorizing objects or ideas.  I use this map the most in my class, and it's one of my favorites.  I use the Tree Map especially in my informational writing lessons which you can also see on this site, but the possibilities are endless for this map.  I found this wonderful video on how brain research and Thinking Maps translate to classroom practice if you'd like to check it out.

Like the other lessons I've posted in this unit on Thinking Maps, this one is an introduction.  I don't want to introduce the map at the same time as difficult content, so the academic content for today's lesson is relatively easy.  This lesson is strictly about learning how to use the map. I've designed this lesson with content my student's have already seen.  We've been in school for a few weeks already and have had phonics lessons on all the short vowels.  So in this lesson we are going to be categorizing pictures with the short vowels e, i, and u.  We are learning how to use this map as well as reviewing our vowel sounds. Because we are only working with pictures, and students will have to hear and then categorize the pictures by vowel sound we are addressing standards RF1.2c and RF1.2d.  Even though we are not actually writing today, we will be using the Tree Map extensively in our writing units later in the year. When we get to informational writing we will be gathering information from different sources and participating in shared writing projects and categorizing the information we read into different categories using this map. I am setting students up for success to achieve standards W.1.2, W1.7, and W1.8.

There are really only a few things you need to prepare for this lesson.  You will need your
Smartboard Introducing Thinking Maps.notebook or Activboard  Introducing Thinking Maps.flipchart lesson, a copy of the Tree Map for each student Student Copy Tree Map , and a copy of the pictures Pictures vowel Tree Map for each student.  If you have picture cards or sound spelling cards that compliment your reading series you could use the cards for e, i, and u as well.  

Modeling Section (I Do)

3 minutes

I brought my students to the carpet and we were sitting in front of the Smartboard. I said,  "We've been working hard in our phonics class with our different vowels.  Today, I want you to be able to review some of our vowel sounds and learn our Tree Map at the same time. Let's look at our sound spelling cards and review these vowel sounds." Then we quickly went through our chant for our sound-spelling cards for short e, i, and u. 

Then I said, "The reason why we use a Tree Map is to put objects, pictures, or words in categories.  Categories are groups.  Today we will putting some pictures into categories based on what vowel sounds they have. We are going to learn how to categorize today and we're going to have fun at the same time. Who is ready to start?"

Guided Practice (We Do)

15 minutes

I said, "O.K. boys and girls we are going to practice categorizing using these pictures on this map, then after we've had some time to practice together I'm going to give you a Tree Map of your own and you'll get some practice to categorize your own set of pictures." 

I turned my attention to the Tree Map on the Smartboard.  I said, "The very top line of the Tree Map is where we put our title.  I've already put the title here.  It says "Sorting and Classifying Pictures by Vowel Sounds".  Then we have 3 columns on the second line here.  As you can see, I've already put i in the first column, e in the second column, and u in the last column.  Right now, all our pictures are mixed up.  Our job will be to segment the sounds in each word, figure out which vowel is in the word, and then put the correct pictures in the correct columns.  Let's get started."

I called on volunteers.  When the student came to the board I had them say the name of the picture.  Then, since we've been working hard on segmenting words into the different sound parts (phonemes) I had them segment the word.  Then I said, "What vowel did you hear in the middle of the word?" The student would tell me what vowel they thought it was and then I'd ask the class if they agreed or disagreed, just to keep the rest of the class engaged.  Then the students would move the picture to the correct column.  We kept segmenting the words orally, and then categorized our pictures by vowel sounds until all the pictures on our Smartboard lesson were put into the correct place.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

After we had practiced together I sent the students back to their seats.  I passed out the Tree Maps and the pictures. I referred back to our Smartboard lesson and helped the students write the title at the top of the Tree Map since it was such a long title.  Then I said to students, "You know which vowels we are working with and where to put each of those vowels. After you've written that you may start to cut out your pictures, segment the sounds and then put your pictures in the correct categories."

I circulated around the room.  Some of my students who need more support in reading and writing needed me to help them write the title and guide them to where they had to write their vowels at the top of the columns. If I happened to catch them making a mistake instead of telling them they were wrong and where to put the picture I would say, "Segment this word again and listen very carefully to the vowel sound in the middle of the word." Many in the class needed minor help with the vowel sounds and I would tell them to go back and segment again and listen carefully for the vowel.  The students were actively engaged during this part of the lesson with cutting their pictures and segmenting their words.  You can see a sample of one of my student's work here Vowel Tree Map 1.


3 minutes

I wanted to finish the lesson with a quick closure.  I want the students to know why we use a Tree Map so I asked them, "What is the purpose for using a Tree Map?  What did you learn how to do today? What were the categories we had today? Where do we put the title on a Tree Map? " It was a quick way to assess if they knew how to actually use the map and met our objective.  I pulled one of my students aside to video her.  I think she did a good job explaining what we did and how she used her map.  You can see what she has to say here Tree Map Explanation.

If after you've completed this lesson and you decide you'd like to incorporate more Thinking Maps into your classroom you can use these resources.  The first is a video I've made How to Save and Modify the Thinking Maps that shows you how you can use the maps from the Smartboard lesson and save them in your personal resources so you don't have to keep making new maps. I've also shown you how to modify the maps to suit your future needs. I also have two Power Points Examples of Thinking MapsTree Map Examples I've found that will give you ideas on how to use the Tree Map in different areas of the curriculum.  Finally, I have a pdf that has examples of how you can incorporate Thinking Maps into reader response activities Reader Response With Thinking Maps.