Monday, January 16, 2012

My love affair with mindmaps

I love mindmaps! My fondness for them started years ago when we called them writing webs, story webs, etc. and they were either distributed on memo sheets (remember them?) or teachers had students draw them. They were and still are great ways to organize thoughts. Then in the '90s I got excited about Inspiration software. I still think it is a great product, as is Webspiration. However, in hard times it is challenging to find funds for subscription software. Fortunately there are great alternatives that do not involve spending extra money:
  • Microsoft Office Tools have become so sophisticated that it is easy to use them to make mindmaps. If you use Open Office (also free), it has these tools too.
  • There are lots of free online mindmapping resources. Just do a Google search and see!I hesitate to give a list because there are so many, but I just came across a blog that is devoted completely to mindmapping:The Mindmapping Software Blog:
  • Here is another good source if you are looking around for software to try: Adrian Bruce's How to Create Mindmaps Using Free Software:
  • Remember to search using both spellings, mindmap and mind map, and also graphic organizers.
BUT WAIT! You say...In these hard times I don't have enough computers for all my students to make mindmaps, nor do I have the time to book the lab when I have so much else to do! Well, this week I have been thinking about teachers and librarians in that situation. My concern led me to take a step back and look for hand-drawn mindmaps. Wow! I discovered that they have been continuing in popularity and even becoming an art form while I have been unaware of all this creativity! To me, having students do maps by hand is good for lots of reasons. It teaches them the same organizational skills as the online tools, it encourages them to be even more creative without the canned graphics, and it improves motor skills. Here are some sites that got me so excited about doing mindmaps by hand. I believe you could just show some examples (depending on the ages of the students) and let them go. Evaluating and sharing their creations will be even more fun than those made by computer. Here are some sites for ideas:
I know that after my revisiting the land of hand-drawn mind maps, I will be using them in my classes. Happy Mappy Days!

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