Seeing the Connections

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Prior to a quiz on the early and mid-1800s (primarily focused on events leading to the Civil War) in 8th grade history, I asked students to make conceptual maps of the people, places, and ideas that we had studied. I broke students into groups of three or four and gave each group a large piece of paper and markers. The only requirement was that each term had to be connected to at least two other terms. The terms didn’t have to form only one web, but some students challenged themselves to do this. The best part of this activity was that there was a lot of realization on students’ part about material that they didn’t know. If there were terms that they couldn’t connect to other terms, either because they weren’t sure what they meant or because they didn’t realize how they related to the other material, it was a good clue that they needed to review the term.

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