Knowledge Maps for Social Studies

Hi all,

For students, learning about how they learn is often times a key to growth and development in school.  Knowledge maps can help students focus in on what they know, what they need to improve, and what they don’t know – and how all of this impacts assessment and how to make sense of content.  Basically a knowledge map is a learning guide for students – in a unit, based on a reading, or through an entire year. Knowledge maps are modified graphic organizers for classroom content – but they can be much more than that.  They also can serve as a checklist for teachers and students to inform instruction both in terms of content and skills.  They are a great way to track student progress using formative data, and it enables students to internalize their own strengths and weaknesses. They can address skills related to the Common Core SS, classroom content, and are a great tool for student analysis.

Based on the Greece Central SD social studies curriculum maps, these knowledge maps give the basic outline for grades 7-11 , excluding AP courses.  If any teacher would like a knowledge map for an elementary grade level, or for an AP course, please let me know and I will create one.

Listed below these links are different strategies that teachers and students can use to enhance the use of these knowledge maps.  The maps listed here are based on an entire school year, but I’ve also included a blank map that could be used for revolutions in grade 6, 9 and 10.  Any theme can fit into these maps.


7th Grade US Knowledge Map

8th Grade US Knowledge Map

Global History 9 Knowledge Map

Global History 10 Knowledge Map

US History 11 Knowledge Map

Revolutions Knowledge Map


These next links will provide both a blank student checklist, as well as a completed check list.  These are to be completed at five week intervals so discussions with students can focus on learning, growth and improvement.

Student Checklist Knowledge Map – A blank copy that teachers and students could start using right now.

Knowledge Map Student Checklist Example – Anything highlighted in green indicates mastery, yellow is meeting, and pink is need to review.

This last link is a completed knowledge map in Global History 9.  A student completed this throughout the year, summarized the work on the student checklist above, and has indicated strengths and weaknesses based on content, assessments  and skills.


Knowledge Map Completed by Student – Again, green indicates mastery of content, yellow is meeting, and pink is working towards meeting.  This student also included both formative and summative assessment grades – which serve as evidence and data – for both teacher and student.  The process becomes very fluid throughout the year.


1.  Knowledge Map Completion – The purpose of this is to have students who are just being introduced to knowledge maps to organize and practice the lesson for one class period by completing a partially filled knowledge map.  Progression to a completely blank map, or even to having student create and knowledge map template could work.  The revolutions knowledge map above could be used for a lesson on any revolution in global history.

2.  Building Knowledge Maps – Once students get the basics of knowledge maps, have them generate maps based on content and skills.  This could occur over a lesson, through a non-fiction reading activity, or through an entire unit.

3.  Note-Taking Knowledge Mapping – Provide students with a blank knowledge map for the lesson or unit.  The map will help students organize information presented, worked on, shared or discussed through the lesson or unit.  Some students will be very challenged by this, so it’s a great way to incorporate differentiation or groupings of students so they can assist each other.

4.  Knowledge Map Essay – The knowledge map serves as the outline for a thematic essay.  Again, the revolutions example above could serve this purpose for the different revolutions that are focused on in Global History 9 and 10.

5.  Knowledge Maps and Common Core – Student can complete different reading and writing activities, grounded in non-fiction and primary source material through knowledge maps.  For example, student could use a knowledge map to summarize President Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided.”  There are many different uses here.

Hope this helps…please let me know if you have questions.  The next post will focus on Common Core examples and Knowledge Maps.



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