Sunday, March 15, 2015

Using Concept Maps in Math Class

Math Concept Maps

Hello! I am Greg Coleman from Mr Elementary Math and I am excited to write my first post for Who's Who and Who's New.

Concept maps are not just for the reading block!  We can use them effectively during math lessons as well.  You may be wondering, "What are concept maps?" Let me explain.  Concept maps are graphic organizers that show a connection or a relationship between concepts. Concept maps can look different from each other, but have two major characteristics in common.  The concepts are inside a given shape and lines or arrows are used to link different concepts together.

In general, concept maps move from broad ideas to specific details and the main topic is usually located in the center.  There are many variations of concept maps, but I wanted to focus on one that assists with student acquisition of vocabulary.  Students need to be able to know and use academic vocabulary when communicating.  For example, one of the common core standards of mathematical practice states that students must be able to attend to precision (Standards of Mathematical Practice   # 6). Specifically, they are expected to "use clear definitions in discussions with others and in their own reasoning."

Below you will find a images of a concept/vocabulary map that you can use when teaching math concepts and vocabulary in the classroom.  In fact, this graphic organizer can be used when teaching any topic in the classroom.  Here are some examples of completed math concept and word maps that can be used across grade levels. Click on the pictures to get FREE templates of the concept map and the vocabulary map.

Math Word Map Example

Math Concept Map Example

Two important things to point out with these maps are the Definition vs. In My Own Words sections and the Examples vs. Non-Examples.  First the Definition is more like the "official" definition, or what you would find in a dictionary.  The In My Own Words box is more of a what could I say to help me remember this concept or word. It could be a phrase or a short sentence.  Last, providing examples and non-examples deepen student understanding of a topic because they are generating similarities and differences.

Here is a simple lesson cycle that can be used when introducing concept maps in your classroom. Click on the image to get a printable copy.

Concept Map Lesson Cycle

In sum, there are many benefits to using concept maps. Check out some of the benefits below:

- A great tool for collecting and organizing thoughts
- Provides a model for visual learners
- A powerful vocabulary strategy
- This strategy can be used across content areas
- This strategy is effective in all grade levels

If you like this blog post about using concept maps in the math classroom, check out my post about teaching math vocabulary with Frayer models and math vocabulary flip books HERE.  Find even more great math resources in my My Elementary Math Store.


  1. I found more vivid Concept Map Examples in Creately diagram community. They are free to be used.