Mind mapping is a powerful revision tool for sorting, linking and grouping ideas. When done correctly, it enables students to organise and understand concepts and ideas presented.
One of the reasons that mind maps are so effective is due to their visual nature. These tools allow students to organising and present information in a way that is creative and visual.
Research has shown that visual learning helps students engage with the concepts being presented and increases retention of the information significantly. Conceptual and higher order thinking is enabled through a clear visual which is easier to understand and remember.
The benefits for visual processors are further heightened, as mind mapping tools suit their unique processing needs.
Another invaluable benefit of mind mapping is that it is open ended in nature. High ability students can bring in additional features to their map such as colour coding, more in depth explanations on their links, examples of each of the ideas presented and abstract ideas. In contrast, low ability students can create maps that are more liner in nature, with less detail.
The more responsibility you give students with their work, the more engaged they may become, with a real sense of pride for their final product. You might start by scaffolding a few lessons with specific maps and ideas to start with, or perhaps a template for students to follow. Once students have demonstrated an understanding of the process and become more confident, you might even get to the point that they choose their own map and complete it completely from scratch!
Here are some different types of mind maps and when they can be used.
2. Flow Charts
Flow charts are great to present linear or cyclical processes visually, as one idea flows to the next. Like the water cycle for example, or a set of steps within a procedure.
3. Brain Storms
I really like brainstorms for the beginning of a topic. And, it is interesting to compare the brainstorm at the beginning to the concept maps at the end, demonstrating how much we are leant throughout a unit of work. A brainstorm generally consists of a central idea surrounded by words which would be considered as smaller components of that idea. Like this:
4. Concept Maps
Concept maps are by far the most popular mind mapping technique and are a great revision tool in Maths. As a Maths tutor Melbourne, I use these all the time with my students as we prepare for tests and exams. They can be used to sort, group, link and organise range of interconnected ideas giving students a visual big picture of an entire unit. Throughout a topic, students learn a variety of concepts and skills. Creation of the concept map allows them to investigate how each idea relates with the others and how they can be used simultaneously.
The most well known example of this would be a family tree. But a tree diagram can be used in a variety of other ways as well. Perhaps a history lesson could use a tree diagram to show different types of battles and their unique features, stemming from the root term “War”.
These look a little like a table at first, but are not quite as linear in their functionality. Matrices are a little like brainstorms but with a more direct focus on a variety of ideas. My example below focuses on students learning synonyms to help with problem solving in Maths. I would instruct students to fill in the boxes surrounding each word with synonyms.
As you can see, there are a range of mind mapping options for you to try. The few I have listed are some of the most popular, but thee are many other options also available. Some will suit different lessons, topics and subjects better than others, but you will soon see how they work and how much understanding they can bring to your students!
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