Mapping Facts

Creating visual maps of what students think are the key facts in a topic to be learned, before and after study, to see the effects of the learning process and to deepen learning.
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Key Method

Students use student-created fact maps, visual organizers of factual information at the beginning and end of a learning unit to help visualize what they know, clarify what they need to learn, deepen understanding, and chart the changes in the mental content map that results from the learning process.

Method Components

As students undertake an activity, the educator leads them through the creation of a visual fact map that includes all of the key factual information for a selected topic. Students refine this map by engaging with their classmates in organized discussion groups. Throughout their discussion, the students document evidence of map improvements. Each step can be conducted individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction.

Steps of fact mapping

Pre-Study Map Creation

  • Students make two lists:
    • Key facts they already know about the topic they will be studying
    • The facts they would like to learn more about
  • Students group the list of facts they already know into clumps of similar facts and give these clumps a category name (such as dates, people, places, discoveries, statistics), then create a diagram of each of these labeled clumps. Suggested activity:
    • Explain how some facts belong to categories of facts that go under the category labels in their fact maps and demonstrate how this might look for a few simple categories.
  • Students create a master fact map by:
    • Combining all the small, categorized fact diagrams they made into one large fact map
    • Placing similar categorized diagrams near each other, or if they fall under another category, placing them under that category and linking them as subcategories under the main category (subcategories can have their own subcategories, as well, and so on)
    • Adding in labeled categories of facts or kinds of facts they would like to learn, placing the categories, with blank space below to be filled in later, where they best fit on the master fact map
  • Students present their fact maps to each other, discuss the similarities and differences, and optionally, make a group fact map by combining the categorized fact lists from each individual fact map

Post-Study Map Creation

  • Students make new individual and small group fact maps, as they did at the beginning of the unit, including in the new maps the new facts they studied.
  • Students compare and discuss their pre- and post-study maps. Possible discussion topics include:
    • How the new individual maps are different from the first ones they made
    • Optionally, how the group maps are different from the first versions
    • How the map changes reflect changes in students' content knowledge for the areas studied

Suggested preparation

  • Discuss with students ways to visualize the facts in their head on paper, on screen, or with physical models to better see what they know and how learning more about something can change their mental maps.
  • Discuss and demonstrate tools students can use to map their factual knowledge of the important topics they will be studying and how these facts are related. Have students choose a tool:
    • Paper or sticky notes and markers
    • A digital application such as Kidspiration/Inspiration, CMAP, XMind, Creately, Gliffy,, Maptini, Mindnode, Idea Sketch, Popplet, Prezi.
    • A physical model using arts, crafts, shop, or other materials

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

To increase awareness of one's content or declarative knowledge or to help gain broader factual knowledge in a subject or topic area, it is useful to create fact maps, or graphic schemas, that visually capture one's factual knowledge by organizing information into categories and showing how each category is associated with other categories, providing a map of one's content knowledge.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in applying fact mapping to improve learning? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the fact mapping activities and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, and other media) that demonstrate progress toward the mapping facts competency, including the students’ beginning and final fact maps, reflections on the changes, and other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit student-created reflections on their experience of the mapping facts activities. Use the following questions as a guide (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did using the fact mapping tools and strategies help you visualize what you did and did not know and what you learned from your studies?
  • How did fact mapping help you become a better learner and help you understand yourself better?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the mapping facts activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily teaching practice in the future?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Mapping Facts
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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