5 Mind Mapping Tools to Find Your Next Big Idea

7/4/2012 5:37:00 AM

 “It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.” Rene Descartes

Mind mapping is the visual and easy-to-understand representation of our ideas. It helps us to brainstorm, organize ideas and information visually. They can be used for writing, note taking, to draw connection between ideas, brainstorm in any topic, create visual products, collaborate and grow ideas. All these things lead learning and better comprehension of the concepts.

The idea of using mind maps in education is not a new idea. We, teachers are already using mind maps for decades as they are effective and powerful visual learning tools to develop thinking skills, let the fresh ideas flow and make the learning process easier and more interesting. With the combination of colors, images, drawings, links and words; mind mapping helps kids increase creativity and the flow of ideas. Mind maps support problem solving skill, help to see the big picture with details on one page and encourages group discussions. They also make it easy to refresh ideas and recall information.

Mind maps have become a more powerful tool with the developing technologies. Now the tools that we can create mind maps, are much more appealing with their bright colors, flexibility and the ability to use different multimedia.

Here are some of the mind mapping tools to engage your students more in their own learning.

MindMeister is an online and an easy-to use mind mapping tool that you can create online mind maps easily and quickly. You can also work with others to create a mind map. You can add notes, links, attachments, tasks, assign due dates and responsibilities.

Bubble.us is an interactive mind map creator and a graphic organizer that allows others to edit and work on the same mind maps. You can create colorful mind maps, connect bubbles without software downloads. You can embed the mind maps in a blog or a website or mind maps can be exported as a jpeg or png.

Mindomo is another mind mapping tool that lets you collaborate with others. Your map can be as big as you want and you can add video and audio to your mind maps. It also allows you to add pictures, multi-level numbering, attachments, symbols and spell check. You can export your mind maps as PDF, image or other format files.

Mind42 is a collaborative browser-based online mind mapping tool. You can add icons, images, links and change the colors and the text styles of your mind maps. You can download the mind maps as jpeg, png or some other format files.

Text2MindMap is a tool that converts texts to mind maps. You just write structured list of words or sentences, interprets it, and draws a mind map out of them.

How can we use mind maps? Here are some of my ideas to integrate this tool in our classrooms:

Children can create their presentations on mind maps. The subtopics can serve as talking points when it is their turn to talk.

Children can start their projects by making an outline with a mind map and sharing it with the teacher.

As a whole class, you can create a mind map at the beginning of the unit that shows what the class knows about it. At the end of the unit, children can create their own mind maps with the new points that they have learnt.

Create lesson plans on mind maps by outlining the lessons with the order of topics, links and the documents that you will be using.

Let’s take notes about the lesson/unit using mind maps and pass the mind map to the children as a visual guide and the summary of what you have taught with visuals, documents and links.

Ask children to create a mind map of a book or a chapter.

Children can outline the characters, the setting and the events that have taken place in the story.

Children can create mind maps before any written assignment then they can share the mind map with you.

Children can create representations of sequence of events in a story or in history.

What about asking children to create a real time mind map to follow the in-class discussions?

Let the children use mind maps as a storyboard for ideas to write scripts.

Children can create lists of their birthdays or Christmas wishes.

Children can also create family trees with pictures and short descriptions.

They can create a timeline of important or the historical events.

Note down the new learnt vocabulary with their definitions on mind maps.

Each child can reflect their ideas on a lesson or for a specific subject.

Once you start using mind mapping tools, you will come up with even more ideas. It  is an easy to use tool and it provides many ideas to implement in and out of our classrooms.

Create mind maps with your students today to enhance learning and find your next big idea!!

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