engaging + empowering students through mapping what’s going on in their minds

Multi-purposeful. Multi-layered. Multi-powerful.

Mind-mapping is a unique- but certainly not a new- tool to engage and empower students in the learning process. ISTE just tweeted an article about using mind-mapping to reinforce flipped learning that emphasized using it as a studying tool. Brilliant.

As an elementary educator, I have used it in the following ways:

  • As a formative assessment to understand what students already know and inform my instruction (similar to a traditional K-W-L)
  • As a summative assessment to see what students have learned
  • To empower students to make connections between ideas, thoughts, new and old knowledge
  • As a literacy character map to demonstrate interactions between the characters, and events that take place
  • As a word web- unpacking a word showing its origins, related words, antonym, synonyms,..
  • As a collaborative tool for small-group work to show their thinking, or map out their plan for action
  • As a tool to collect keywords for research (in the way a “write-around” would do)
  • As a tool to demonstrate different ways of writing and thinking about numbers (ways to show the number 32, for example)

And the list goes on.

I prefer to use Coggle.it because of the way students can link their ideas in flowing lines, instead of structured, rigid ones. In my mind, the flowing lines enable the user to show stream of thinking. I also like Popplet as an app, but the lines are more structured. Once the learners tinker with the mind-mapping tools, you will see that they lean towards some more than the others. And, I have also had students who have found other mind-mapping tools such as Bubbl or use what they are familiar with from their K-2 classrooms such as Inspiration. Click here to see a neat compilation of different mind-mapping tools.

Once students decide to share or work off of their mind-maps, students then can:

  • Save their mind-map,
  • Convert to either a .png or .pdf ,
  • Embed into their shared word processing app such as Google Docs, or into a digital paper such as Notability.

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