This strategy will help students to:
- break down and visually organise complex topics.
- Separate a piece of paper into nine sections.
- In the centre section, record the topic. In the smaller sections around the centre record sub topics.
- In the other sections, use the same process of breaking it into nine sections. Write the subtopics in each of the centre sections and then more information about the subtopics in the remaining sections.
I used the lotus diagram in year 11 in respect to the Gattaca unit. The lotus diagram allowed me to encourage students to organise their knowledge about the key characters in the film. Under the major headings students wrote down the names of the characters that they believed where fundamental to the film. Around the subheading boxes students were expected to write quotes for each character and a list of adjectives to describe their personality traits. Although this was an activity that took approximately 15-20 minutes, the task made it clear to me who understood the film, who revisited the film over the holidays and which characters or sub characters that they were not familiar with. It also allowed me to notice who knew the key concept within the film and the key metalanguage unpacked in class.
There were some issues;
– students didn’t have a lot of space to plan their work, however it forced them to ensure their writing was condensed and summarized (which is clearly an important skill)
– some students provided very little detail in each box
– adding extra information for the high achievers became an issue – some students wanted to put in and excess of 10 points per subheading and the lotus diagram did not allow for that
Considering the issues, I would recommend that teachers use the lotus diagram an activity to start their lesson with, a revision task for an area of study or a quick recap activity. Alternatively they could use the lotus diagram at the start of a lesson and then ask students to expand on each box- e.g. write paragraphs about each box
In my Century of Change Year 10 History class I combined the Lotus Diagram and the Jigsaw. In small groups students were delegated 1 of 8 ‘themes’ from 20th Century History (Conflict, Creation, Firsts, Lasts, Rights, Discovery, Harmony, Disasters). They then researched 8 significant events associated with that theme (i.e. Conflict – WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Korean War, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the first Gulf War). The experts for each theme then participated in a ‘speed dating’ session with the other themes until the entire Lotus Diagram was completed. It worked really well as students needed to effectively communicate in order to share their research and we were able to cover a huge amount of material in a reasonable amount of time. It allowed to students to have an excellent overview of the 20th Century and work with peers they wouldn’t normally interact with.