Center High School SOS

Spotlight on Strategies for Building Capacity

Strategy for the Week of January 11, 2016

As instructors we are always looking for practical knowledge and tools to create positive and lifelong learning. Time is of the essence in so many ways, I thought this would be a quick and easy way for you to browse and try some new strategies as we continue to develop our learner centered classrooms

Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate: Concept Maps

This particular strategy will help one organize one's thinking and ideas as well as to reveal how one understands a particular concept.

  • Generate - a list of ideas and initial thoughts that come to mind when you think about this topic or issue.
  • Sort- your ideas according to how central or tangential they are. Place central ideas near the center and more tangential ideas toward the outside of the page.
  • Connect your ideas - by drawing connecting lines between the ideas that have something in common. Explain and write on the line in a short sentence how the ideas are connected.
  • Elaborate - any of the ideas or thoughts you have written so far by adding new ideas that expand, extend, or add to your initial ideas.

Topics or concepts selected for this routine are often large scope. This strategy can be used at the beginning of a unit to reveal what learners already know about a topic, spark discussion, or it can be used later in the unit to assess how students are making sense of the topic.


Concept maps help activate prior knowledge and then connect those ideas in a meaningful way. It helps to organize our thinking and illuminate how ideas relate to one another. It can help to solidify our thinking and understanding. For a concept map to be truly revealing , it is helpful to structure the process of creating a concept map, not to constrain the thinking but to actively foster more and better thinking. The regular use of concept maps highlight the mental moves needed to create a rich and revealing understanding of the topic/concept.

Need more information about how to use this strategy in your classroom?

Come by and let's chat.