Friday, April 1, 2011

Mind Mapping Mark Twain

I recently had my first experience with Mind Mapping in my classroom; my son mentioned that he was doing it in his IB English class, so after looking into it, I decided to give it a try to see how my students did with it and whether or not they found it useful.

As a whole, the students and I were both pleased with the results. Various sources indicated that mind mapping is extremely effective with visual/spatial learners, a learning style that many of my students have as a strength, which is one of the reasons I opted to try it out in my classroom. After explaining the process to them and modeling my own, I turned them loose to try it out. As the lesson proceeded, I found myself re-creating my mind map since the one I had created as my exemplar was done with Free Mind.

Some thoughts on the tech version of mind mapping: as mentioned, my first example was created using the Free Mind software program, which I found semi-intuitive, yet rather limiting in many ways; I also tried using the Mind 42 website, but again, found it to be too limiting. There were a few links I wanted to make between "pods" on my map, but neither Free Mind nor Mind 42 would allow me to do so. I did like having the option of pasting in actual pictures and links, but since I had planned on having my students create their mind maps using markers/colored pencils and paper (the "bells and whistles" of the software programs would have proven too distracting for them first time out), the shortcomings of the tech version became readily apparent.

I'm also glad I opted out of the tech version simply because it did prove to be fairly distracting trying to figure out how it worked and what it all did while trying to finish my project. I knew if it was that bad for me, it'd be a lot tougher for my students to stay focused on the task at hand, so the high tech version was abandoned before the lesson was implemented.

Step two of the process involved turning the mind map into a more traditional, linear "outline" of sorts simply because it helped my brain move from a more amorphous thinking environment to one that I could recognize as being able to fit into a more recognizable, linearly formatted way of thought that would find itself transferred into an essay.

After that it was easy to move the students into the rough drafts of their essays. Based on the feedback I received from the students, this strategy was a huge success for them. I'm glad I implemented it, and I know I'll be using it again.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear that the activity was a success. I’m sure your students had loads of fun drawing and mapping their thoughts. And I think the fun part was they were able to integrate some of their creativities into their mind maps. Colors, patterns and shapes can make it more visual and clear. You can even do this activity outside the class. When you want to achieve something, you can plan it out with mind mapping.