Synthesizing the Mind

The following is a blog post for my EDIM 508 graduate class.

The ability to synthesize information from a variety of sources is an essential skill to survive in today’s society. Students have access to large amounts of information and need to understand how to make sense of a variety of sources to help guide their decision making.

One tool that is very effective in helping students to synthesize information from disparate sources is the use of a digital compare/contrast chart. Kathy Schrock has a wealth of concept map resources on her website. Here is a specific example of how this can be used:

The ELA common core standard for 6th grade asks students to compare and contrast the experience of reading a story or poem vs. hearing it and/or viewing it. Let’s take Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Divide the class into 3 groups. One group reads the poem. One group listens as someone reads the poem. The third group watches a video of someone reading the poem with visual illustrations (which can be found on Discovery Education). The groups then make a T-chart of what they “heard” and what they “saw”.  Once the class comes back together they develop a digital compare/contrast chart that outlines their similarities and differences between the 3 groups. Students can develop this on an interactive whiteboard. A deep, rich discussion can develop as the teacher facilitates the conversation with probing questions such as “What caused the differences? Was it due to our differences as individuals or due to the way in which we experienced the poem?”

Resources:

Kathy Shrock. (2011). Concept Mapping in the Classroom. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything. Retrieved September 19th, 2012 from http://www.schrockguide.net/concept-mapping.html.

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