Whether your students are in elementary school, middle school, high school, college or university, mind mapping is a tool that I strongly recommend because it can be modified depending of the needs of the mind mapper.
What is a Mind Map?
A Mind Map is a tool that enhances the full potential of the brain by using creativity to help memory recall. It is a graphical technique that has a main idea, branches and twigs; it starts with a subject, then it is followed by important aspects of that subject, which are followed by main points of the important aspects and finally followed by examples.
Why will I use Mind Maps with my students?
I consider this tool to be very effective when it comes to brainstorming and studying. So, each time a new theme will be introduced in class, I will do a big brainstorm with the whole group and I will ask students to give me any prior knowledge they have on the theme. Instead of just listing them on the board, I will create a Mind Map because I think it is a more useful visual tool. To do so, I will use the iMindMap software, which I am familiar with, on the interactive board and, with my students’ help, I will create main categories as well as sub-categories. When needed, I will add pictures to help them understand. That way, once it’s done, students will have a clear overview and understanding of what will be seen in the new chapter/unit. Moreover, because it is done on the computer, it will be easy for me to print it out and hand out paper copies to the students or to send it to them via their portal.
Also, whenever they will have a test on a book, I will have them use this tool with partners in order to create an effective study guide. All students will have the same main categories (setting, characters, plot/chapter, themes, etc.), but they will have to find the sub-categories as well as examples from the book. That way, while doing it they will also be studying and, once it’s done, they will all have a clear overview of what to know for their test/exam.
In brief, as a future teacher, I consider this tool to be a great visual help for students. It brings a new dimension of understanding and it can bring students to use their creativity in order to make their MindMap more interesting and fun. Plus, it increases memory recall, which helps students remember what they studied.
Once students learn how to do a Mind Map and how to use it, it becomes helpful on a daily basis and for their whole life.
Mind Mapping Software
Mind Maps can be hand-drawn, but they can also be made on computers with the help of mind mapping software. There are several advantages to doing them using a computer program or application. First of all, there is the aspect of flexibility. It gives endless possibilities to modify it, to add information and to move things around without having to erase any of it. Also, there is the possibility to send it by e-mail to teammates or collaborators that can modify it on their side. So when it comes to teamwork, this aspect is very useful. Thirdly, the Mind Maps can be exported on other programs such as PowerPoint for a presentation, Word for an essay or a research, etc. Finally, you can add pictures from the Internet, from scanned drawings or from a library of photos. That way, if someone likes to draw, he/she can still add his/her drawings to the Mind Map and if someone hates to draw, he/she has plenty of options to use.
To sum up, Mind Mapping is a great method that I suggest every teacher to use. You should teach it to your students using computer software. If you think that it is too complicated or that you are too old to use that kind of technology, you should think it over because it is simple thanks to detailed instructions and to the help of Internet. Whenever something is unclear, you just have to type a question on Google and you will find many websites answering your it.
Once your reluctant side is gone and that you realize it is not that hard, think of your students. They are the ones using technologies everywhere. Why not use their favorite tool? First, they will have more fun doing Mind Maps. Second, they will be able to continue using that tool for as long as they want. It’s a win win situation. They might even thank you for showing them such a useful tool.