- ELT & the Science of Happiness (Positive Psychology)
- DIY Neuro-ELT
- Physical Activity in the ELT class
- Extensive Reading
- Extensive Reading @ TESOL2014
- Questioning comprehension questions
- Language Learning & the Senses
- Task Planning
- Imagination (mental imagery/guided journeys)
- Mind Maps
- Speaking tasks (dialogs)
- Talking about Japan
- Misc. fluency tasks
- English in 3D (a fresh look at traditional tasks)
- Firsthand Flipped
- Odds and ends
- Learning to embrace rainy season
- Songs for kids' classes
- My students teaching kids
- John & Marc's BBQ
- Contact Marc
- Thanks, Mike!
- Extensive Reading
- Listening Links
- NELTA trainings 2/15
- Claret School Quezon City (TESOL Philippines) pictures
- CIA (Cebu) pictures
- Christmas Party 2013
- New Page
- Non-English majors (warm-ups & tasks)
Mind maps (brain-friendly notemaking)
Mind maps (also called "graphic organizers" or "Spidergrams"[Br.Eng]) are ways to organize ideas and information. When I was first introduced to mind mapping, I was skeptical. Mind maps were suggested as a good way of notetaking. But I thought, "I know how to take notes, so I don't need this." It was only after I started understanding mind maps as a way of notemaking that I understood their power.
(Now I use them for notetaking as well!).
Traditional notetaking/making follows the linear form of an outline:
I. Main Point #1
A. Subpoint #1
B. Subpoint #2
1. Example of B
a. More on B
b. Yikes, even more on B.
2. Something else related to B
II Main point #2.
The problem is, that isn't how your brain works. Your thinking is much messier. We don't think in a linear, A- B -C way. Mind maps are reflect that. When students make mind maps, especially as a way of preparing for a speaking or writing activity, the map lets them add ideas as they think of them. They can switch subtopics and add extra information, details and ideas as they choose. They can write ideas that they will later leave out of what they say or write. Mind mapping is similar to human, radiant thinking.
What follows is an experiment I do with my grad students.
Read the following suggestions for mind mapping.
• Use large sheets of paper. B4 or A3 is better than notebook size.
• The paper is horizontal, not vertical.
• The main topic goes in the middle of the page in some kind of image. The main topic can be a word or a picture.
• Write additional notes on "branches". Write whatever you think of . Maybe you won't talk/write about every idea. You can "edit" later.
• Don't write full sentences. Single words or sets of 2-3 words are better. (If you wrote full sentences, it is too easy to "lock in" to that way of saying it. You're working with the ideas right now, not the way to say it.)
• Simple pictures are great. So are numbers, dates, etc.
• If possible, use colored pencils. Four or more colors are great.
• Use different writing styles, too.
• Try answering the WH-questions about your topic.
• Like anything else, making mind maps gets easier with practice. Make mind maps regularly.
OK, here's the experiment. Look away from this page. There were 10 ideas. How many can you remember? How long does it take to remember?
Now, try it again. This time, click on this mind map about mind mapping. Read this ideas. They are the same as the ones presented above, but they are presented in the form of a mind map. Most of my students find it much easier to remember the ideas from the mind map (OK, it is the second time you've met the ideas but you can probably feel how the were easier to understand and remember with the mind map). When I do this with my grad classes, I have half the student do each method and compare.
I use the mind "map about mind mapping" with both grad students and undergrads. For undergrads in conversation classes, I often use "a really interesting trip you took" as the topic to help them get started. Once they know the technique, they can use them for any topic.
People teaching (especially) writing might want to use graphic organizers with spaces to help learners understand the organizational concepts they are working with. Here are a few links that provide free graphic organizer pdfs. (Note, I don't have anything to do with these sites. I just found them on the internet and want to share them with other teachers.).
Making a Keynote or PowerPoint Slideshow? Presentation guru Garr Reynolds of PresentationZen fame suggests doing your planning on post-its, one for each slide. It makes it easy to move them, rearrange them, add and replace them. This is essentially adapting the map map idea for use with slideshows. Garr has an article on crafting presentations here.
I learned a lot about Mind Mapping from Miles Craven.