Visual Mapping invites participants to synthesize ideas and generate responses to prompts that are verbal and visible to the whole group. It also allows participants to see where their ideas and responses intersect or overlap with those of other participants. Working collaboratively to organize the group’s collection of responses, participants make new connections between ideas as they discover ways to visually represent how ideas intersect.
Give 3-5 small pieces of paper or large Post-It notes and a marker to each participant and ask them to write multiple responses to a single, open-ended prompt. For example: A key argument or fact from last night’s reading was ___. Or, A goal I have for myself in math is ___. Or, Equal rights means ____. One response is put on each piece of paper. All papers are collected and spread out on the floor or a large desk surface or wall (if paper/tape or sticky-backed paper is used). Invite participants to read responses and then organize or “map” out responses in related groups. Once grouped, participants can provide a name for each category of group of responses if desired, or consider how some responses might bridge or connect between categories. If working with a large group (over 15) split the group in two and let each group make their own visual map of their responses. Then share the two maps together to compare ideas and groupings.
- What do you notice about yourself or the group during this process?
- What categories emerged? How did you choose to title each category group? Why?
- What new insights or information does this map give you?
- Where was the “heat” or our interests most focused for our group? Why do you think this is?
- Ask multiple questions and participants can color-code their answer (Please put all answers to prompt one in blue and all answers to prompt two in green, etc.) Or if there is a need to track responses for specific groups in a diverse class, groups can be assigned marker colors (all female identifying students use blue; or, all students in row 1 use red; or, undergraduates use green; or, students from Ms. Johnson’s class use orange).
- After mapping is completed, ask individuals to “tag” (create a small marker with their name or a symbol of their name) and mark a location on the map. For example: Place a marker on the word/s that you are most interested in talking further about; or, Place a marker on the topic or skill you feel you understand best; or, Place a marker on the topic or skill where you are still learning.
- READING/WRITING and SOCIAL STUDIES: Have students map key themes from a text, or settings, or map events and then group them in order.
- SCIENCE and MATH: Have students name animals and then group them into categories using scientific properties or attributes. Students pick up random objects outside then group the found objects based on properties using scientific and mathematical language.
- See Identity Iceberg for a related activity procedure.
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