Strategy #5 – Content Mapping

Good morning WNY! Welcome back to “Two Minutes of Teaching.” This is local educator Jay Hall.

Today we are going to cover another really cool strategy, this one is called content mapping. Content mapping is easy to implement at home with a just few basic materials. It works great for all forms of text in any subject.

Let’s get started.

For this strategy you will need:
-a text from any subject, any grade level
-a piece of paper
-pencils, pens, markers

Step #1:

Review the definition of “Content Map” with your student. A “Content Map” is a graphic representation of a text’s topics, ideas, and their relationships. SYNONYMS include, concept mapping and mind mapping, very similar strategies with very similar results.

They allow students to group information (such as the three branches of government) in a colorful, creative and meaningful way so that the connections between and among the information become FAR MORE visible than they might from a plain reading of the text.


Step #2

Decide on the main overall topic of the content map. Write the main topic in a dark colored marker, in a large, visible font. Box or frame your main topic.

NOTE: The topic comes from the text. In this example, my daughter is reading the informational text Courage and Caring: The Life of Clara Barton. It is an autobiography about Clara Barton. The main overall topic of the text, or what it is mostly about, is Clara Barton so we placed her name in the middle of our content map.

clara Barton map

Step #3:

Ask your student to complete a first read of the chapter, section, or text. Before he or she begins, take a second, and like we covered in the last two episodes, chunk the text and remind your student to annotate for gist as they read. These two strategies work great as a prep for completing a content map!


Step #4:

Now ask your student to go back to the first page of the text or, if you have one available, the table of contents. Skim the text and/or table of contents.  Draw a branch/line off of your main topic for every sub-topic you find and on it write the subtopic clearly on the line. Continue to write and illustrate to add more details – you are free to add more topics, sub-topics or any other items that you need in order to capture the most important information in the text.


I received an email with pictures from a student from BPS#80 yesterday. He is using a content map to close read and analyze the section of text he is working on in science entitled “The Electromagnetic Spectrum.”  As you see, he placed the words “Electromagnetic Spectrum” as his main topic in the center of his content map and has chosen to use for his subtopics visible light, radio waves, microwaves, etc. as these represent the seven major concepts in the section of text.

student work map - electro

The continuation of the Clara Barton autobiography content map:

claar barton sub topics

NOTE: Main topics and subtopics are easy to find in any section of text when you look for things like larger font size, bold text, numbering or lettering. When you see these types of textual features, you know you’re looking at a main topic, subtopic or other important term. This is the exact information you’ll need locate to get off to a great start on a content map.

stduet work - map lectro highlights

Step #5:

From the sub-topics, ask your student to branch off or bullet with supporting details, both written and drawn, and continue to add more details in order to capture the most important information in the text.

Here is the Clara Barton autobiography example:

clara barton deatilsclara barton details 2

Step # 6:

Ask your student to re-read the writing completed on the content map to once again get the big picture of what the section of text was mostly about. As they review their work, prompt your student to add additional sketches and/or photos to match the key information noted by the main topic, sub-topics, or supporting details sections of the content map.


claar barton skecthes

fianl barton map


Content maps make excellent study aides. You can hang it on the wall in your child’s bedroom or other area of your house so your students at home are able to frequently review their work. Or, send a picture of your student with the text and content map to their teacher and maybe even teach the strategy to a few of their classmates during their next virtual meeting.

That’s it for today! We’ll see you next time when I introduce another great reading strategy.

So keep reading. Keep writing. And, most importantly, be safe WNY.

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