Teach education

Reflections of an IB science teacher

Visualising the Question and Mapping the Response

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[So, I’ve come to the conclusion that my desktop computer is now a recovery project. Perhaps when I’ve managed to restore the memory, I might find a use for various components and it will become a few new projects. However, it is about time that the clunky old thing was replaced. I’ve been craving a desktop-replacement laptop for some time now so that I’m free’d from my desk and also to make any future international moves more simple. Until then, here’s another draft post that I’ve been meaning to publish…

I hope you enjoy it.

Mr Copeland]

Generally, students are awful at understanding what a question is asking them to do. A lot of the time, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise because generally, teachers are awful at spending the time to explain to students what different command terms are actually asking the student to do. Ideally, they would be my target audience for that little rant, but they are not the sort of teachers that also spend their time reading teaching and learning blogs and I can safely assume that you have at least once guided your students through command terms. On behalf of education, thank you, and please loudly discuss how necessary this is in the next time you’re in the staff room for all around to hear.

So,today I’d like to share with you a novel way in which students can approach structuring different command terms. And this is visually, through concept mapping. All of the following concept maps were first discovered in our departmental OneNote in a section created by my head of department. There was an external link to their apparent source, so in the interests of transparency, here’s the link.

The circle map (Below) is great for getting students to just create what I like to call a “Mess of understanding” – it is everything that students think fits into the context of the topic before they have really covered enough ground to sort out the information they have.

The bubble map is good for collecting adjectives and other key words that can be used to describe a theory or a process. This is a good activity to prepare for an “outline” or “describe” question.

One of my personal favourites, the double bubble map provides students a framework for the dreaded “Compare and contrast” questions. Probably only exactly as useful as a Venn diagram, but much more fun to say! “Draw a double bubble map!”

I subscribe to the idea that we compartmentalize all knowledge, which leads me to see a real use in the tree map (below). This has obvious uses in some topics in biology but try it when teaching the EM Spectrum, crude oil fractions or molecular structures.

Sequencing maps are fantastic aids to students who struggle writing a scientific method or are having a difficulty understanding a particular process. They can be linear, branch out or loop.

The multi-flow map below is great for analysing cause and effect. Student’s add causes on the left, which flow into effects on the right.

Finally, the bridge map is a fun way of having students consider relationships and analogies. They  pair words above/below a horizontal line that they all share.

One example could be to link measurements with units or measuring devices, another perhaps to use the relating factor “Was discovered by” or “Is used for”. As I see it, this is only useful occasionally in science.  But I’d love to stand corrected!: Please share any useful examples in the comments section for other visitors to pick up 🙂


Author: mrcopeland

Whilst I believe that there is a common core of knowledge that is necessary for academic conjecture to take place, I still think that there is plenty of room for progressivism in education. My pedagogical approach centres on guiding and motivating students to become independent academics and global citizens so that they have the tools they need to both succeed within, and shape for the better, an uncertain future. I believe that we are in a golden age of support in education, with a wealth of educational professionals willing to collaborate across the world and countless technologies for education being provided all the time we are in a position to achieve a new standard of education. By blending our learning structures and using tools for AFL to support and guide scaffoldings for inquiry, we are for the first time in a position to offer a classroom that is truly differentiated and flexible to every student’s needs. This flexibility gives space for students to express themselves and use creativity in their approaches, to develop important social and professional skill sets and to be guided by inspiration and inquiry. This subsequently allows students to take ownership of not just their education but their position in the world, allowing them to develop into true global citizens.

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