Concept Mapping

Purpose:  To activate and engage students during all stages of the learning process

Description: Using concept mapping, students construct a model for organizing and integrating the information that they are learning. Concept mapping can be use prior to an assignment as a brainstorming activity, during an assignment as an organizing strategy, or as a post-assessment activity.


  1. Choose a key word or topic related to a unit of study.
  2. Write the word on an overhead transparency or on a sheet of chart paper.
  3. Ask students to think of as many words and ideas as they can that relate to the focal word.
  4. Write the words on a map in clusters or categories.
  5. Have the students suggest labels for the categories and write them on the map.
  6. If there are any key vocabulary words that are important to the comprehension of a reading assignment and students do not mention them, add them to the map with a red marker or pen.
  7. Discussion of the concept map is the most important part of the lesson. This helps students become aware of their current thinking and helps them to see relationships between words and ideas.
  8. After the reading assignment, or as the unit progresses, new words and categories can be added to the map. Use different colors of ink to show that this information was not known prior to the reading or unit of study.

Lipton, L., & Wellman, B. (1998). Patterns and practices in the learning-focused classroom. Guilford, Vermont: Pathways Publishing.

Sample Concept Map for Microsoft Office 

from Instructional Strategies for Engaging Learners
Guilford County Schools TF, 2002

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