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10 Ways Mind Mapping Improves Learning in the Classroom

10 Ways Mind Mapping Improves Learning in the Classroom

By Jeilan Devanesan

Keeping your students’ attention in a typical classroom setting has its challenges. Students from the age of six and up already know how to use apps on mobile devices, browse the internet, use social media, stream online content, play games, make Facetime calls and more.

They live in a high-speed, constantly evolving, digital world. And that world affects what they pay attention to and how they learn, according to Psychology Today.

That means, as an instructor, you have to come up with new approaches to teaching to help your students absorb new information. This may seem like an overwhelming challenge, but there are things that you can do to easily engage your students.

One of those things is mind mapping. Mind mapping is a form of organizing information visually. You start with a broad concept that branches out into other topics and terms that are related to it. Mind maps are effective learning tools because they’re interactive and visual.

Here are ten ways that mind mapping helps students focus and learn. But first, learn how to get started.

More: How to Improve Reading Comprehension with Mind Maps

How to Create a Mind Map

why mindmap

With mind mapping, you can take the digital or traditional approach.

A digital mind map gets created on a computer or mobile device with an online design tool. You typically start with a mind map template that can be personalized by students online, or printed off as handouts to help them get started. These unique mind map templates encourage students to express themselves creatively without any restrictions.

Digital mind mapping is often done with tools intended for non-designers. All you need is a computer or mobile device. Traditional mind mapping often works just as well, and only requires pencils and paper.

The traditional approach to mind mapping is essentially drawing mind maps by hand on paper, the blackboard or a whiteboard. Traditional mind mapping is still useful because it can be done at any time, allowing students to take notes, brainstorm on the spot, collaborate with their peers, and more.

Ultimately, the real value of mind maps is their versatility. Mind mapping allows your students to reason, think and problem solve in ways that make sense to them. It encourages their creativity, and since they’re visual, they’re easier to remember.

With your mindmaps ready, here are 10 ways to use them with your students.

1. Help students learn new concepts easily.

Students have to constantly learn new concepts and apply them. But you don’t want them to simply memorize dates, facts and phrases. You want them to actually understand the concepts you’re covering, so that they can apply them later in life.

A mind map can be created to depict how a concept breaks down into its parts, what those parts mean and how they tie into each other. This approach helps students understand new things in ways that make sense to them, allowing them retain new information for much longer.

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More: 10 Awesome Apps to Improve Learning Retention

2. Promote individual creativity and focus.

Mind maps are a form of creative self-expression. Students can express themselves in an unstructured way, even if they’re working on something straightforward. Activities that aren’t necessarily exciting for students, like creating a to-do list or self-reflecting, are a lot more engaging when students are allowed to be creative.

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This outlet for creative expression helps students connect with their work, remember what they’re learning, and keeps them engaged. It’s also a way to deviate from the structure built into most learning environments.

3. Serve as a digital resource bank.

One of the advantages of a digital mind map is that it can include links to other online resources. As your student’s mind map begins to branch out, she can link to sites and resources that provide even more detailed information. Instructors can also create a digital mind map to share online with the entire classroom, to be used as a resource tool.

This kind of mind map can be maintained as a visual reference library that can be constantly added to which students can visit.

4. Drive classroom participation.

Teaching can and should involve students’ participation. Getting students to share their opinions or discuss a topic can be tough. But starting with a mind map on the blackboard or whiteboard with students’ input can get them involved.

Mind mapping a classroom discussion is a great way to learn where your students’ level of understanding sits. It’s a great way to validate your students’ ideas and make them feel comfortable thinking openly and critically. It also works as a form of peer learning, where students’ broaden their perspectives by listening to one another.

Lastly, this approach is a way to guide your students’ thinking, so that they arrive at important conclusions themselves.

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More: 10 Interactive Classroom Tools for all Teachers to Try

5. An effective note-taking method.

Conventional note-taking is tricky for most students. How do they decide what to write down and what to leave out? Do they copy what’s on the board, or listen to what the teacher is saying?

In other cases, students are watching a documentary, a YouTube clip, or an online talk, and need to determine the most important points.

Mind mapping as a form of taking notes, helps organize different concepts and tie things together much faster. It helps students prioritize information and again, establish a hierarchy to that information. 

More: 8 Best Tools to Share Notes Digitally

6. Improve collaboration with classmates

For group assignments, students have to be inclusive, listen to one another, and work together. When they decide how to best approach assignments, whether it’s choosing a topic, deciding and choosing tasks, or thinking of unique ways of carrying out the assignment, a mind map can help them get started.

They can start by listing possibilities, focus on what’s most practical, and then decide on the next steps and division of tasks.

7. Provide a process for studying literature.

Typically, reading poems, short stories and novels requires that the student understands a wide range of concepts and ideas. Keeping track of characters, metaphors and motifs might not be easy. Mind mapping can help students visualize the connections between settings, characters, metaphors and more.

They can compare differences between characters and settings to help them better understand essential details. They can also flesh out themes that the literary work explores.

8. A platform for creating essay outlines.

Putting together an essay requires some planning. A mind map can help break down broad ideas into specific topics, leading into arguments and then supporting points. It’ll also be much easier to compare arguments, and keep them from overlapping, but also remain related.

9. An alternative approach to studying for exams.

Whether it’s studying for history, English, math, art or something else, a mind map can help organize topics and concepts. Creating a visual set of study notes helps reinforce the essentials behind a topic and more.

10. Provide a way for setting goals, solving problems.

As a personal practice, students can use mind maps to walk themselves through problems. These problems can be challenges they face in completing homework, maintaining focus during class or at home, sticking to a routine and more.

Students can lay out their issues and start coming up with potential solutions. Providing students with the autonomy to solve their own problems is empowering and essential to their leadership skills.

Just remember: mind mapping is accessible to everyone. If you have any questions about mind mapping, just shoot me a comment below. Have any experiences you’d like to share about mind mapping in your classroom? I’d love to hear about that too!

 

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