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The Idea-Map is a specialized set of graphical organizers. Like all other graphical organizers, these tools help students produce visual representations of the main concepts of a document.

The Idea-Map is unique because of its simplified form. Compared with other (more exotic) graphical organizers, Idea-Maps are relatively simple block charts that represent a document's progression of ideas in vertical (top to bottom) or horizontal (left to right) fashion.

Lenski, Wham, and Johns (1999) describe four types of Idea-Maps:

The Enumeration (Description) Idea-Map prompts students to identify main ideas and list possible definitions, related terms, or examples.

The Compare and Contrast Idea-Map asks students how two related concepts are alike and different and then to chart these comparisons on a Venn diagram.

The Time Order or Sequence Idea-Map helps students uncover the logical progression of ideas in a document—from earliest to latest, from most to least important, etc.—and, then, to place specific items or details within this sequence.

The Problem and Solution Idea-Map allows students to investigate and analyze possible solutions to problems.

Steps to Idea-Maps:

  1. Select a reading text for the class and identify the most appropriate Idea-Map to assist student comprehension of the document.

  2. Duplicate and distribute the template for the selected organizer to the class. Students can work individually or in small groups to complete the organizer chart as they read the passge.

  3. Encourage students to discuss—in small groups or with the entire class—their entries in the Idea-Map. Have students make any necessary refinements to correct misconceptions or sharpen imprecise language.

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