Two renowned doctors, Ruth Sylvester and Sherry Kragler of the University of South Florida Polytechnic’s Division of Education recently shared some components of their research at two gatherings of local educators.

They presented “Retreading Tired and Flat Thinking Maps With ‘All Terrain’ Poems and Art” at USF Polytechnic to 120 members of the Polk County Reading Council, an organization of K-12 teachers, administrators, and university students and faculty.

The two professors discussed ways to transform the ubiquitous thinking maps present in most Polk County public school classrooms. According to Sylvester and Kragler, their research indicates that while thinking maps are viable tools for helping students visually organize their thinking as they read science and social studies texts, the maps may often be abandoned or be discarded once a lesson is completed.

When students do not use thinking maps for further activities, opportunities for deep processing of ideas and information the students have compiled on the thinking maps are sabotaged. Sylvester and Kragler offered a “retreading of tired and flat thinking maps” by showing ways to use words and phrases collected on the various maps to write poems and create academic art.

Dr. Sherry Kragler talks to local educators about how to facilitate student vocabulary acquisition

They presented “Vocabulary for the Vulnerable Preschooler” at the Polk Collaborative Partners Conference at Polk State College. Based on results from their research and others, the two demonstrated how to use a children’s book and a sequence of short, but repeated, activities throughout the week to facilitate students’ vocabulary acquisition.

Known for its innovative approaches to today’s education challenges, USF Poly’s Division of Education prepares teachers, support personnel, and other professional educators to improve teaching, learning, and leadership techniques through research and practice.