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The Engaging Lesson: How to Combine Mind Mapping & G Suite

The Engaging Lesson: How to Combine Mind Mapping & G Suite

By Nancy Morris

We’ve all heard the phrase “death by PowerPoint” and know its implications too well. Anyone who’s worked in education will have watched as a teacher talks to a room of half-asleep students, reading from a set of static slides. There’s minimal interaction and engagement, and probably no learning happening.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that teachers can move away from the “sage on the stage” approach and truly engage a class. Using mind mapping and G Suite, students are able to absorb and retain knowledge, with the help of education technology.

Why the “Sage on a Stage” Approach Won’t Work

When information is presented in a linear way, as it often is in a PowerPoint, with headings, and subheadings, we lose the opportunity to categorize, make connections, synthesize and reorganize information in our heads. Slide after slide, details appear and disappear with a click.

It would be so much more powerful for students to see information in a more connected way, be able to manipulate it, work with it, and recognize it, throughout the lesson. In order to achieve this, try drawing on products that enable your class to collaborate with your prepared content, resources, and each other. In this case, the combination of tools we’re discussing is G Suite and an online mind mapping tool.

More: 8 Engaging Presentation Tools for Teachers

How Collaborative Classroom Tech Can Help

It’s long been touted that learning with a collaborative tool, like online mind mapping, can provide a breadth of educational benefits.

A 2002 study found that mind mapping improved the long-term memory of factual information within their student participants by a whopping 10 percent. But it’s not just memory recall—another study found that students felt a significant increase in creative thinking by studying with the use of mind maps over linear note-taking.

Visual learning expert, Jesse Berg, MSIT, M.Ed. takes us through why this could be the case:

“Mind mapping allows students to capture ideas and integrate content in no fixed or prescribed order, and in ways that use multiple senses. When mapping an idea, a person can skip around from topic to topic, but rather than leading to confusion, mind mapping provides an effective way to capture thinking as it happens. Using our visual, spatial and kinesthetic senses, mind mapping allows people to build a visual model of a concept and organize that information logically.”

When using mind mapping in the classroom, particularly alongside G Suite, I’ve found exactly that. In comparison to simply taking notes while watching text from a slide, facilitating learning with technology encourages your class to stay engaged throughout the lesson. By allowing students to lead the discussion, you make the learning process more meaningful and memorable.

More: 8 Apps for Creative Collaboration in the Classroom

How I Facilitate Engaging Lessons With Mind Mapping and G Suite

As an instructor and full time faculty member who teaches education courses for pre-service teachers, I use the online mind mapping tool, MindMeister. It’s helpful for not just note taking, but collaborative work and information sharing in my face-to-face classes.

Mind mapping allows the students and I to capture our learning in real time. Then, using the ideas and discussions captured in the mind map, students use G Suite products to turn these ideas into group presentations and essays. Here’s how.

1. Prepare for the Class with a Shared Mind Map

mind maps and g suite

I start using MindMeister while preparing a mind map before class. I’ll include videos and links, or simply headings, and share with my students ahead of the session.

With MindMeister, you can share a link (with either view only or editing rights) in an email to students so they can open the mind map to read and explore the content before the lesson, including embedded articles, resources, images and videos.

Remember that you can break larger topics down into a number of different topics, which you can then use for group activities.

More: How to Improve Reading Comprehension With Mind Maps

2. Drive Class Discussion With the MindMap

mind maps and g suite

Once class has begun and you’ve opened up the shared mind map, it’s time to discuss resources as a whole group first. Then open up to small groups or student pairs, where each group focuses on one assigned topic or subject within the map.

At this point in the lesson, I encourage students to type notes and ideas straight into the shared mind map under their designated topic. Students can then begin to make connections between the topics, in order to understand, in their own way, the bigger picture of the subject being taught.

3. Use Google Slides to Turn Lessons into Student Group Presentations

mind maps and g suite

Now it’s time for students to put what they’ve learned into words. Once you’ve discussed the concepts within the mind map and embedded relevant links and resources, for example imagery or links to external resources or studies, you can ask your small groups to move onto developing a group presentation on their designated topic or area with G Suite’s Google Slides.

Whether students are working on separate devices at the same time, or are sharing, ask each student to write a couple of slides each, based on the content covered. Together the slides create a group presentation and each student can share theirs with the rest of the class.

The slides can embed the mind map developed in the lesson, via a screenshot and a live link to the embedded mind map.

More: 10 Google Slides Projects for Students

4. Use Google Docs For Students to Turn Knowledge Into a Paper

mind maps and g suite

Finally, using the mind maps and Google Slides as notes, students then formulate their own thoughts into a paper for homework, based on the class topics covered. They can either choose to focus on the topic designated to their small group or another topic presented by a different group in class.

Using Google Docs, students can write their paper online and embed any citations or images straight into the document. After submitting a link to their paper via email, you can easily provide feedback by leaving comments and make edits using suggesting mode. With this feedback happening in real-time, the student can go through and implement changes immediately.

5. Now, Bring It to Your Class

This is how I use these two tools to facilitate an engaging class. On every step of the way you’re asking students to not only take notes about the information, but engage with it, manipulate the content, add their own notes, and discuss the subject with their classmates.

Consider how you can use G Suite and mind maps in your classroom to boost student engagement, learning retention, and interest in new lessons. Do you have questions about facilitating this for your class? Leave us comments!

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