This was the first time this year I used a Concept Map, so I used Land and Water Concept Map to introduce it. The important idea for the concept map is that the arrows are labeled in such a way that the two ideas could be read like a sentence. I had my students add additional arrows to the first example to reinforce that there are other ideas relationships that exist between the ideas.
Next, I had my class create a concept map using worms, plants, and soil on their own. When they shared out, I recorded their ideas on a concept map on the board. I had to do some prompting to get them to be specific because they wanted to use "helped" for almost every arrow.
In past years, I used a bridge map for board work, which is a Thinking Map used for showing analogies. This gave students much more practice identifying the relating factors between two ideas. This year, because of our schedule, there just isn't time to go over board work together, so my students needed more support than is typical.
I gave each pair of students a large sheet of construction paper. I had students work with their shoulder partners (this is a 3rd grade/4th grade pairing) because I wanted them to practice talking out their ideas. As I circulated, I heard many students say sentences using the vocabulary words. They needed encouragement hearing what the link was in their sentence so they could write it down on each arrow.
In this video, you'll see how I coached students to write down their connections. Requiring students to articulate how these words specifically relate to each other with a verb creates a deeper understanding that will help them use the vocabulary correctly throughout the unit, as well as placing the terms into the greater context of the unit where they belong.
As some pairs began to finish, I had them add color and illustrations to help their maps.
As a closing activity today, I had each pair share the idea they thought was the hardest to connect with another group, setting up an opportunity for some peer to peer explanations and establishing a need for future learning.
I am looking for quantifiable data to show pre to post test gains, so I count the number of meaningful connections on each map. For me, a meaningful connection shows the relationship, so "A stream is water," would not count, but "A stream is made of water," would count. You'll have to make your own judgement calls though about what works for you.