In The A Game, Sufka explains that concept maps are (1) one good way for students to organize the material that they need to learn and (2) going through the process of making a concept map is an effective way to learn it (pp. 44 – 47—in the section “don’t study like a zombie”). We spent a little bit of time going over concept maps in class, and I put this abbreviated example on the board: Newton’s laws – concept map (which I just found somewhere online). There’s also an example on p. 46 in The A Game.
Last year, making a concept map for chapter 1 was an optional (extra credit) assignment. This year, I had everyone do it. The quality varied pretty widely—in terms of how well they connected the concepts in chapter 1 as well as the artistry. This was the best one: concept_map2b. This was probably the second best: concept_map1b. (Those are both kind of large files.)