Creating a Graphic Organizer or Concept Map

By: Mitchell L Dutch

Depending on what you would like to accomplish, there are different types of graphic organizers that may be effective and different ways to produce them. First consider whether you want to you want to develop a map without student input, to develop a map working with students, or if you want the students to generate a map on their own.

Whether working with the teacher or in groups, collaborative mapping allows students with different knowledge and ability levels to utilize each other’s knowledge. Generally, each member of the group should be able to contribute as long as they are familiar with the material. As they examine relationships between concepts, ideas, events, or people, students should be able to see if their understanding is accurate. Obviously, one student may have a stronger grasp of one concept or event while others may be able to fill in or contribute details of a related concept or event. According to educational research, students should be able to improve their own understanding or clarify misconceptions by discussing and considering other students’ comments.

If students are working with a specific topic in a text:

* Have them read the passage and locate the main idea in each paragraph or section.
Have them locate the main idea or ideas and list the idea(s) on the blackboard, in a Word document, or on paper.
Students should then determine the type of graphic organizer they need.

For example:
A Descriptive or Thematic Map works well for mapping generic information, or for mapping hierarchical relationships.
A Network Tree might be useful for organizing hierarchical information or connecting superordinate or subordinate elements
A Spider Map might be effective when the information relating to a main idea or theme does not fit into a hierarchy. This could also be useful for showing characteristics and/or examples

Sequence of events or steps: Flow chart: .
A Problem and Solution Map contains information related to cause and effect problems and solutions. You might also consider a flow chart.
When cause-effect relationships are complex a Fishbone Map may be useful.
A Cycle Map is useful for organizing information that is continuous.

* Beginners might want to parctice post-it notes or note cards so that they can be rearranged.
* Students should identify the key concepts. List them on post-it notes or note cards.
* Rank the concept words hierarchically
Arrange the concept words according to hierarchy and relationship
Link the concept words by drawing lines showing the connections between them. Label the lines with a word or phrase that explains the relationship. (Use straight lines with arrows to link related terms. )
Each line should link only two concepts. (There may be several links from any one term.)
* Use a word or phrase as a label to indicate the relationship between two connected terms.
Each line should indicate the relationship between the two terms it connects.
(If an idea is related to another idea on the map, a broken line might indicate that relationship.)
Review the map. Determine if the relationships are clear and if other links are needed. Are there areas that need explanation or development?

Source: Mitchell L Dutch’s page