Friday, 13 May 2011

How to create an interactive mind map for use in the classroom, Mark II

When I published this the first time, Blogger had a crash, which lasted for two days. They had to delete some posts (including mine), but subsequently restored them. I'm not sure if the restored version is trustworthy, so I'm re-publishing this article. I also decided to add more ideas on how to use mind-maps as I know a lot of teachers just want all their stuff served on a silver platter! ;-)

I have just discovered this nifty mind-mapping tool, so I decided to put it to a quick test. It's called are lots of things you can do with it and it's user-friendly, so it's quite easy to use. In any case, if you're in doubt, they have a comprehensive help page. If you still have problems, just write a comment below or email me.

You don't need to have an account with them to start using it. Click start, and begin clicking and typing! Among the things you can do are undo (but not redo), copy & paste, drag, change colours and size of bubbles, and linking manually.

When you've finished, you can print it.

However, if you have an account - it's free and easy as pie to set up - you can save your mind map, and share it by linking or embedding it on your own site.

I won't go into all the details as they do it better on their help page. As an example, I did a map on Asking Questions, first seen on Teaching students to ask questions, and embedded it here. To enlarge, click on the + sign on the top left, or try the scroll knob on your mouse.

There's just a slight niggle I have about it, though. When you start the tool, you may get, like I did, Adobe Flash Player asking permission to store information on your PC. I'm not sure why, so I refused it permission, but, as you can see, it didn't prevent me from creating a mind map.

So, what do you think? Do you like it?

Here are some ideas on how you can use mind-maps:

  • Use it to teach pronunciation: you can do phonetics (see example of partial mind-map below), rhyming words, etc.
  • Pronunciation of the ending of regular past simple
  • Spelling rules, for example, plurals (see my post on plurals)
  • Irregular past tenses (group similar verbs, e.g., grew-grown, flew-flown, knew-known)
  • Get to know each other by doing a personal mind map (hobbies & interests - past & present, family, places travelled, etc.). Students can do it at home, then in class, beam it up and have them guess who the map belongs to.
  • Group tasks. You can also map the tasks first, and the students decide themselves which tasks they prefer.
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Idioms
  • and the most common usage - vocabulary. Encourage them to do their own at home. You can review them at random in class, and brainstorm additions to their lists.
Some people will say that digital mind maps defeat their original purpose, that each map is individualised: each one does it in their own way, the crazier it is, the better they will remember what was written. Well, if they prefer, they can print it out, and then add their own illustrations, for example.

If you only have 1 computer in class, you can make the mind-mapping a whole-class activity, but if there are more, do it in groups. Then, you can compare them and get the students to bounce ideas off each other.

 If you have other ideas on how to use mind maps in class, why don't you share it with us?

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