Mindmapping for Learning

Kelly Nelson-Danley
Kelly Nelson-Danley
Assistant elementary school principal; Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

What is Mindmapping?

Mind mapping is a really neat way to organize information, make connections, and understand new information. It is a more visual way to process and work with information. In an educational setting, teachers and students can use mindmapping to process information in a visual way, as opposed to sitting through lectures or reading textbooks.

Mindmapping gives students the opportunity to understand new concepts and make connections between new information and what they already know. When students map an idea, they use their visual, spatial, and kinesthetic senses to interact with ideas and allow them to take on a visual representation of information. It can be done using online tools or using pencil, markers, crayons, and paper!

Today, more and more teachers are embracing mindmapping and its benefits. There are multiple online resources that provide mapping tools and software, as well as ideas for how to incorporate mindmapping into lessons. Mindmapping encourages student engagement and creativity. It’s a great way to help students think and learn!

 What are the Benefits of Using Mind Maps?

Not only is mindmapping fun for students, it is also beneficial for them! There are many positive learning outcomes associated with mindmapping. Below are some of the benefits.

  • It creates opportunities for Meaningful Learning, meaning that it forces students to make connections between their prior knowledge and new information.
  • Mindmapping helps students memorize information. Since students are creating a visual representation of their learning, they are more likely to commit it to memory.
  • It helps students break down complex information into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • It makes learning more engaging and fun by allowing students to be creative. When creating mind maps, students do not have boundaries and may create and use the maps however they see fit! It is a free flow of ideas which fosters creativity.
  • Mindmapping is a skill students can use beyond the classroom. Many CEOs, businesses, and more use mindmapping to problem solve and brainstorm new ideas.
  • It improves collaboration as students can work together to create mind maps.

How to Use Mind Maps for Student Learning

Mindmapping can take place in a variety of ways in the classroom. For example, mindmapping can be a useful way for students to take notes or plan projects. Students can even use mindmapping to study for assessments or to problem solve. Sometimes students struggle developing solid study habits that payoff. Mindmapping is an easy way to help students grasp difficult concepts and retain new information. By using mind maps to study, students are able to understand concepts more easily as they are creating connections and developing a clearer picture of a topic.

The beauty of mindmapping is that it can be used in any grade level, from kindergarten to high school students; for example, they might create a mind map to problem solve ways to make 10. In doing so, the students would draw a circle in the center of their paper with connecting lines. Students would then add ways to make ten. What students add will be up to them. One student might draw tally marks, another might draw five red circles and 5 green circles, while another student might draw 15 circles and cross out 5.

It is really up to the student as to how they will create their mind map. Prior knowledge and creativity will play a role into how complex the map may end up being. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a tenth grade student might create a mind map to plan an essay. The essay topic might be located in the middle of the map, while parts of the essay branch out such as the introduction, arguments, opinions, research, and more. Mind maps can be used in any grade level and can follow students to college and real-world situations to help students make connections and make sense of learning.

In addition to these examples, mindmapping may also be used for the following purposes:

  • Taking notes
  • Generating ideas and thinking creatively
  • Planning projects
  • Tracking progress
  • Preparing a presentation or essay/report
  • Learning/studying – note taking, review, recall, and exam preparation
  • Decision-making – prioritizing, clarification, e.g. solving problems
  • Visualizing concepts
  • Improving critical thinking
  • Improving reading and writing skills
  • Advanced research papers or graduate projects
  • Outlining written documents
  • Storyboard presentations

As you can see, mindmapping has a place in the classroom. It is a beneficial tool to help students of all ages brainstorm any topic, think creatively, and problem solve. It will guide students with a natural way of thinking and help them make learning connections and deepen student understanding. It is an excellent way to increase out-of-the-box thinking and productivity. Mindmapping will allow students to express their ideas and to identity relationships between information, improving memory, and retention. Give mindmapping a try!

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