En la Clase: Rethinking Columbus with Mind Maps and Venn Diagrams

In our last En la Clase post, I wrote about how I’ve used a GLAD strategy called Pictorial Input Charts to teach content knowledge to my students.  In this post, I’m going to share another GLAD strategy that builds on the Pictorial Input Chart: the Mind Map.  I’d never heard of a Mind Map until I participated in an introductory workshop on GLAD.  I was curious about how my students would respond to it, so I implemented it right away.  I have to admit, I was a little surprised at how much they liked it.  I used it numerous times throughout the year, often because they’d ask to do it.  To help you visualize the activity, I’ve included a blank version of a Mind Map below.

The categories on the Mind Map are the same categories that I chose to highlight on the Pictorial Input Chart. Using the information from the Pictorial Input Chart, students then fill out the Mind Map.  The first time(s) you do this activity, you probably want to do it as a whole class.  When I did it, I created a large poster-size version of the Mind Map that we filled out as a class.  With the Pictorial Input Activity, we created two images–one of Columbus and one of a Taino girl.  In this case, you could fill out one Mind Map of Columbus or the Taino girl as a whole class, then let students fill out an individual Mind Map (working in groups) for the remaining chart. It’s also a great activity to incorporate into group projects.  My students loved to create their own jumbo sized Mind Maps as part of group presentations.  Below I’ve included a typed version of a filled out Mind Map, typically the Mind Map is hand-written and displayed in the classroom throughout the unit as a reference material.  This activity re-enforces the idea of visually and categorically ‘chunking’ information, providing an organizational framework for remembering the information.  It also serves as a way to review covered material. When large versions are created and then displayed around the classroom, they can be used as reference resources for students.

Depending on your classroom needs, the activity can end here with the completed Mind Maps. If you have the time, an easy extension is to have students create a Venn Diagram based upon the information in their two Mind Maps. Here again, students learn to categorize and synthesize information and display it in a graphic organizer. Below I’ve shown a typed version of the Venn Diagram.  Click here for a pdf of a blank Venn Diagram.

Once the Venn Diagram is completed, students can use this graphic organizer to write a compare and contrast essay.  With my third graders, we kept the essay to two paragraphs–one on how the subjects were alike and one on how they were different.  At the beginning of the year, I always gave them a template with a topic sentence for each paragraph and sentence starters. By the end of the year, all of my students could complete each of these activities with little to no assistance or prompting from me.  I could definitely see how these types of activities supported their learning and progress in other areas as well.

I’d hoped to include some pictures of examples from my own classroom, unfortunately, I’m in the process of moving and my home computer is currently not set up.  I’ll update this post with the photos as soon as my computer is back in commission–it always helps me to see actual examples of teacher and student work.  In the meantime, you can always google “GLAD Mind Map” images and you’ll see plenty of examples.

If you have any questions or would like more information on any of the documents/activities discussed here feel free to leave a comment.  I’m always more than happy to share any resources I have!



One thought on “En la Clase: Rethinking Columbus with Mind Maps and Venn Diagrams

  1. Pingback: En la Clase: Rethinking Conquest and Colonization | Vamos a Leer

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