Friday, November 16, 2007

Thinking Maps in Art of Film

Rachel Tholen's Art of Film students, mostly seniors, used Thinking Maps to review the Westerns that they had studied in class prior to the Western unit exam. Students selected three maps to complete and present to the class. Rachel said the final discussion day with the map presentations went very well.

Rachel gave her students the following possible maps and tasks:

Circle map: Define the elements of the Western genre, typical characters or one aspect of the film.

Bubble map: Describe the film, a character or the genre.

Double Bubble Map: Compare and contrast two films, two characters within a film, two main characters from different films, or two directors' styles.

Tree Map: List details about the literary, dramatic and cinematic elements of a film and in the frame comment on their effects on the viewer.

Brace Map: Break down the setting of a film into its subparts. In the frame, answer the question: How does the director use set direction to enhance theme?

Flow Map: Sequence the main events of the film and include important substages of that event.

Multi-Flow Map: Analyze the causes and effects of a main conflict in the movie. The frame should answer the question: How do cinematic elements enhance conflict?

Bridge Map: What analogies can you make between this movie's characters and events and pop culture of other films and books?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dancing Definitions

After the first NUA Large Group Sessions, a few teachers in cohorts 4 and 5 decided that they would try the Augusta Mann dancing definitions strategy that was modeled. Claris Springob noted that world language teachers often use similar strategies because they need to bring the vocabulary to life for students.

Here’s the summary of the dancing definitions strategy:

1. Teacher writes a rhythmical definition on a poster to display during the teaching. The poster also includes a tag sentence that uses the word in a way that connects to youth culture. The teacher should also consider adding a differentiation word to the definition for those students who already have a strong vocabulary.
2. Teacher recites the definition (repeating the key words of the definition) and tag sentence. The recitation also involves memorable movement(s).
3. Students recite the definition and tag sentence and do the movement two times with the poster visible.
4. The teacher then puts the poster down, and the students recite, from memory, the definition and tag sentence while doing the movement for the fourth time.
5. The poster should then be hung on the wall. Depending on wall space in your classroom, you may have to rotate words every few days.

Here's an example of a definition of a vocabulary word from The Crucible:

arbitrate: To arbitrate is to judge or decide, judge or decide, a dispute. The umpire will arbitrate the play at first. (motion: the baseball out signal with thumb coming out).

Teacher Responses to the Strategy:

Within a few days of the large group, KC West had incorporated the dancing definitions strategy into her English 10 class. The first time that KC taught a word, she told the students that they may find the strategy funny, but that it would help them learn the definitions of their vocabulary words. KC reported that the students really liked the strategy, and she heard students comment: "Wow, I can't believe that I actually remembered that definition." KC also felt that the activity helped build rapport with her students. She felt that they respected her more for taking a chance on a strategy that took her out of her comfort zone.

Scott Woelber tried a dancing definition with volume in geometry class, and here's his report on how the definition went:

"I actually wrote the definition of volume on poster paper along with an association. Volume is the amount enclosed. Volume is the amount occupied. The volume of the Metrodome is enormous. The volume of an iceberg is enormous. I said it three times like a chant (but within my comfort level!). The students repeated it back once while looking at it, and then again but with the poster covered. Hand movements were included. This activity went well, but it takes a little convincing that chanting a definition isn't just for little kids!

Some American Literature teachers are planning on trying dancing definitions with the vocabulary words from The Crucible.

To read more on the strategy, visit this website:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Multiple Maps for Deeper Meaning

As the culminating U.S. History project, Ruth Mary has her students go through a complete problem solving process using thinking maps. Students pick a problem that they think the world is facing, like AIDS or environmental issues, and they work through the maps to come to a solution.

The steps in the process are described on page 4-21 in the Thinking Maps: Tools for Learning blue binder.

The problem definition stage involves creating a circle map to define the problem and a bubble map to describe the attributes of the problem.

The collect and organize data stage involves the students classifying details that they found during the research process in a tree map.

The brainstorm solutions/options stage has students brainstorm possible solutions to problem with a circle map and then use a flow map to prioritize options.

The evaluate consequences stage has students create a multi-flow map for each possible solution to analyze the causes and effects.

In the choose a solution stage students complete a double bubble map that compares and contrasts the two best solution possibilities, and then their final solution is expressed in a bridge map to make an analogy for better understanding.

Tree Map to Organize Writing

Betsy's World History students created tree maps after completing research on a person of historical influence. The papers had to address three areas of influence for their historical figure, so a tree map with the influences as categories was a logical way to classify details to use in the paper.

Betsy provided her students with the following sample tree map as a model.

More Math Thinking Maps

Scott and Lizzy have really embraced using Thinking Maps in math classes this fall. Below is an example of how they have used the flow map to show the sequence of a variation problem.

Here's an example of a multi-flow map to prove a theorem.

Comparing Math Equations

As part of their math exam, students in Lizzy's class had to compare and contrast two equations by creating a double bubble map. Here is one student's answer:

Algebra Problem Takes Three Thinking Maps

Scott and Lizzy have been working this fall with Algebra students and using thinking maps to solve problems. The students went through a process of defining the problem with a circle map, classifying known information about the problem in a tree map, and then putting the equation steps into a flow map.

The teachers prompted the circle map creation with the question, "what do you need to define to solve this word problem?" "What distance" was the essential question, so that became the center of the circle map, and students defined "what distance" with all the details they knew from the word problem.

The second step was to classify the details into a tree map. Lizzy and Scott did not tell the students the categories, so many students struggled with this step. Upon reflection, Lizzy and Scott felt that the tree map categories should be worked out in a full class discussion so that students are not led too far astray. Here are the resulting tree maps:

List Group Label

KC's sophomores completed a list group label activity to analyze the props in Arthur Miller's All My Sons. KC had her students list all of the props that they could find in the play, then the students grouped them into categories on a tree map. Finally, they had to label the categories. The activity got the students thinking about the significance of Miller's props, and they realized that the detailed stage directions are included for a symbolic reason. One of the more interesting tree maps had the categories of positive, negative and unimportant props.

Click here for a full description of the strategy.