KSA #05 Differentiation · KSA #09 Instructional Strategies · KSA #10 Technology

How can Concept Maps be used to benefit all learners?

When I first heard today that our task was to use Inspiration software to create concept (or mind) maps, a single question popped into my mind

“Is this an applicable tool to enhance the learning for all students in the classroom?”

At first, to myself I replied with a simple and abrupt “Nope”. You’re probably questioning what “data” I have to support such an abrupt response. Truthfully, all that I have to support my reaction is previous experience. When mind maps have been introduced to me in the past, it was done so in an extremely ineffective manner; mostly by someone who would fall under the learning style of abstract random. As a concrete sequential learner, I found this to be extremely unappealing as a learning or brain storming process. My experiences showed me that mind mapping were random organizations of thoughts and information. Again, how could someone use this tool to effectively plan, organize or communicate. They can’t. A list, nice and neat seemed to be the best and only way to effectively accomplish desired tasks.

However, today it occurred to me, my past experiences and exposure to concept maps was not only ineffective but incorrect. Note the difference between incorrect and ineffective, you can teach something correctly in an ineffective way in hopes that your message is received. This was not the case, I was taught mind mapping in an ineffective and incorrect way.

If we as teachers can show students how a mind map can be logically organized with colour coding, categories, subcategories and so on, this can be a very effective tool. I’d even say that it could be more effective than a list, could be. The beauty of mind mapping is the picture that they portray. They leave the student with an idea and an image that they can then refer back to, either mentally or physically, to communicate, expand on or discuss a topic. This unlocks the true potential of this tool.

As educators we have a daunting task. We need to integrate several teaching and learning strategies into our classrooms to promote learning. If the rationale behind the usefulness of a mind map is not understood by your students, the learning tool now becomes null and void.

Until next time,

Mr. B


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