To be honest, I teach Mind Mapping (also known as Content Mapping) not only as an organizer, but also in the context of Brain Vomiting (I’ll add an endnote to this, so you’ll understand the rationale), and forming a viable outline for writing and/or study.
There are actually many tried and true programs out there. For years we’ve had our students using Inspiration software. This was incredible – you created your mind map, then could click a button and – Voila! – you had an outline that you could still re-arrange. You could also add notes (for references, etc), and it simplified students’ and my lives in writing and working on projects, tremendously.
So, I began teaching kids that in order for them to begin actually writing a paper, they needed to compose a mind map of what they are going to be writing about – and then they would need 5 spokes of main ideas. As a Strategic Tutor, this brought more kids into the realm of understanding and engagement (in high school) than anything else. It is simple, elegant, and visual.
Last Summer, I began using Lucid Chart, as it was easier to manipulate and devise multiple lines to help see relationships between entities. It wasn’t as linear as all the others seemed to be, but it did come at a cost. Fortunately, for my administration, I could color the lines so they could more easily understand how the dynamics of the project worked – it, too, was simple, elegant, and visual – but I don’t think their brains were ready for that as I had to tutor each and write statements so they could understand – but they found themselves at sea, still.
So, wanting to discover more options, I forged ahead and began exploring the following applications in hopes of finding something my students could access from home. Here are the ones I went through, and my estimation of each:
- Popplet – A basic form of a mind map. It was fine but, for some reason, I found it frustrating to create more than just the main points. I realize there must be a learning curve involved, but knowing my students it would stop them in their tracks. There would be more teaching involved to help them figure it out. So, for me, this one was put to the side.
- Bubbl.us – another application which seemed to work, but still my brain just couldn’t completely wrap itself around everything – maybe I’m trying too hard. It functioned more easily than Popplet, but there were still some tricks that had to be learned and I wanted to move on. Call me impatient, but I’m looking at these as though I’m one of my students. It’s better than Popplet, but it still didn’t bring me satisfaction for ease.
- Mindomo – Available on the Chrome Webstore, this one is magic. It takes the student through the process of the project, step-by-step, and helps organize and create a good, solid essay. Were our students at a higher level of writing, then I would definitely use this application with them. It also allows the teacher to help interface and teach to the particulars. It is available for teachers to create their teaching plans, as well as for students. It’s truly worth a try. If/when I have a student who is at a higher level of writing, then this is definitely something I’d recommend (as I would have when I taught IB Literature). This could also be used for middle school, upper elementary, and high school. Just take a gander – you might be surprised!
- Coggle – I choose this app. Why? Because I began to use it and took off with it. It was simple, I could easily figure it out without any problems or questions. I even discovered how to add pictures to it. This is something my students would really appreciate and could/would use. Yes, my choice.
Here is a sample of my project, which, in reality, took me less than 20 minutes to complete:
This can also be viewed at: https://coggle.it/diagram/V5-vAnV3rXIeia8d/f55cd664d21ceab7e1b717bee74c73b9deabcd3192d5b43fb1b49b53bf78be1f
If you take a good look, you can see how much you can do with this. And once done, then you can just copy it, take a screen shot, whatever, and then create another – I don’t believe you can do many without needing to pay…and that sucks.
So, there you have it. Playing can sometimes be productive….I’ll have to take this information and post it to my Strategic Tutor site, as well!