Promoting Detail in Student Work with aMap

For anyone who asks students to think their way through an process step-by-step, getting students to explain how details support their summary can be a challenge. If you’re interested to check out a more visual way to organize and force those processing steps, you may want to check out this week’s resource – aMap, a visual “argument” creator.

aMap is a visual map of the details that support an opinion. Students step through through a 4-tier process the aMap developers call “informal logic”, described below.

The underlying structuring of aMaps is based around “informal logic” – this is the logic people use to argue in everyday life. Informal logic has a four-tiered structure:

– Your position (I think . . .) – what you think overall
– Propositions (Because . . .) – reasons that support your position
– Arguments (As . . .) – supporting arguments that back up each of your propositions
– Evidence (Supported by . . .) – supporting evidence to back up your arguments

A sample argument and the resulting map is below. Every map can be either e-mailed to a teacher, or embedded directly into a website or wiki.

aMap has a few limitations:

  • There is a 3 “arm” limit, which means that the site only accepts up to three supporting details for any opinion.
  • Each element of the form is limited to 100 characters (less than for a text message).

The tool seems best for an introduction activity, or a review if students need work on clearly connecting details to a general opinion. If you like the concept and interactivity, but need something with a greater number of arms or more room to write, I’d encourage you to check out SpicyNodes.

For another “green” example in SpicyNodes, check out the example below.

For more information on either of these resources, feel free to contact your TIS.


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