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Mind Mapping: Helping Students Fine Tune Studies

written by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 1/17/2012

This article will supply teachers with resources for obtaining mind-mapping examples that will help students fine-tune their studies. Mind mapping is a non-linear way to approach any subject.

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    What Is a Mind Map?

    A mind map in the simplest terms is a technique in which a complex subject goes from a macro view (think, wide angle) to micro view (think, close-up) by creating a web of topics and sub-topics related to the main subject. Another way to think of mind mapping is a visual representation of a main idea in which the creator designs a web of connecting thoughts or ideas in a graphic or artistic form.

    Mind mapping examples show that any subject area can utilize mind maps as a means to brainstorm. Students enjoy creating their own mind maps, which are an excellent tool for educators in assessing a student's understanding of a subject. Mind maps can also assist students in discerning topics for essay or research papers.

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    Teacher Resources

    No need to reinvent the wheel, on the World Wide Web there are several sites that offer downloadable mind mapping samples for educators. These mind maps can be used as handouts for students or as templates for students to fill-in their own ideas. There is also free mind mapping software that aids in the creation of mind maps.

    The following sites offer downloadable templates:

    • www.mymindmap.net
    • www.mindmapinspiration.co.uk
    • mappio.com

    The following sites offer free mind mapping software:

    • www.edrawsoft.com/freemind.php
    • www.thebrain.com
    • www.smartdraw.com/specials/mindmapping.asp

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    Tips When Mind Mapping

    Whether an educator downloads mind-mapping samples or creates a mind map from scratch, there are a few things to keep in mind when creating mind maps.

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    1. Remember that mind mapping is form of brainstorming. In order to promote deep, effective thinking, eliminate as many outside distractions as possible, i.e. turn off computers, cell phones and other distracting electronics; dim lights; avoid interruptions.
    2. Begin with a main idea or question. For instance, for a history unit on the Civil War, the main idea might be "slavery" or "Lincoln" or "How did the underground railroad work?" For an English literature unit it might be "Which Shakespearean plays address the theme of parent/child relationships and how?" or "American poets".
    3. Be creative! This does not have to look like a thesis statement. Use colors, draw pictures and allow for freethinking or thinking outside the box. Most importantly, have large paper on which to create the mind map.
    4. Finally, remember no idea or thought is incorrect, silly, or undeserving. Put them all down. Once you have exhausted all possibilities, then you can weed out the items that do not work.
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    Final Thoughts

    A form of brainstorming, mind mapping is non-linear, creative, expressive and fun. Mind mapping is an excellent tool for the classroom. As an assessment tool, mind mapping is effective in any subject area. Mind mapping also assists in discerning topics for papers or research. Educators may obtain mind-mapping examples online, download mind-mapping software, or take the leap to create their own dynamic mind mapping templates to use in class with students.

    Resources:

    • www.mindtools.com
    • www.inspiration.com
    • www.gearfire.net