The Honeycomb – reinforcing connections between concepts in Economics

As a quick lesson starter, or revision tool the following activity is an excellent way to consolidate conceptual understandings. In my Economics class this year, I am exploring lots of different ways to developing deeper thinking and conceptual understandings and this was a really positive lesson.

With the aid of a visual, the task asks students to draft sentences which connect two specific or micro-concepts and explain the relationship. You can copy the Google Doc template here, which shows the visual and then gives student space at the bottom to craft their understandings.

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 12.09.51 PM

The hexagon visual helps students understand the interconnection between a variety of very specific concepts, this is an important scaffold towards conceptual formation.

In this example, students needed to grapple with the relationships between the different variables which collectively make up the ‘Cost Theory’ for firms. It is a simple visual trick, but by nesting the concepts together in a honeycomb pattern we reinforce interconnected relationships of knowledge in students mind.

As a teacher, the tricky thing is considering how you arrange the concepts, specifically choosing the concept which you place in the centre. Once you have decided on your arrangement, try move the letters around to points where you think relationships can be explained. A couple of the connections such as F in this example can be tenuous so don’t feel you need to keep all of the letters and maybe just highlight the essential ones.

I first stumbled across the hexagon idea on the following twitter post from Hill House College in the UK and have adapted it for Google Docs.

Taking it further?

  • You can adapt the hexagon concept and get students to cut them up and arrange them to form sentences. Try provide some sentence starters to scaffold students. eg. Firms costs are best illustrated by……
  • Finish by asking students to develop a generalise about the relationship linking to macro level concepts.
  • Give additional support by listing specific terms to explain links.. eg. equals, leads to, determines, may, includes.
  • Use Quizlet as retrieval practice of the concepts and definitions. See example here utilizing the new ‘learn mode’ of Quizlet.
  • See here for another take on the hexagon idea to connect facts and concepts.

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