This summer, Im exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, Ill talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I focus on a variety of online resources for mind mapping.
Mind maps are not new to the language arts and composition classroom. In fact, they have been in existence for centuries. Youll see them labeled with various names—mapping, clusters, webbing—and combination terms such as mind webs or cluster map. These graphic organizers most frequently have a single label in the middle of the map with related ideas spinning out in a connected pattern. Here's an example I created using Bubbl.us:
If youre unfamiliar with this graphic organizer, be sure to check out How to make a mind map® in 8 steps for some tips. While the page refers to a specific software program, the general information in the tips can be applied to any way of making mind maps, even old fashioned pencil-and-paper techniques.
You can buy software like Kidspiration or Inspiration that is designed to make mind maps, but I want to provide some options for free and limited use tools that you can use without buying anything extra or paying a fee for a service. Each of the tools listed below includes all the basics you need to create general mind maps:
- Bubbl.us: Free Internet tool, supports collaborative mapping
- Ekpenso: Free Internet tool with Google Gears and Adobe Air versions
- FreeMind: Free open source tool, once installed does not require Internet access
- Mindmeister: Free Internet version allows 6 maps, supports collaborative mapping
- Wisdomap: Free Internet version allows 3 maps
- Mindomo: Free Internet version allows only 7 private maps (unlimited public maps)
For example maps you can share with students, be sure to visit TopicScapes Directory of Mind Maps, which points to maps specfically on literature. Mappio provides a wider variety of example maps. The site allows visitors to upload and share their own maps as well. Both sites are directories. In other words, they point to maps on third-party sites. Many of the literature examples are on the Inspiration website for instance. The maps at these two example sites are often more sophisticated than the free tools will allow students to create, but they do show the range of options for mapping well.
Even if you choose not to have students do mind mapping in class, these example sites point to resources that you might use as you teach specific topics.
- The Inspiration Map on Wordworths “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” can provide plenty of places to begin discussion and inspire analysis.
- The Shakespeare Biography Mind Map could be used to organize an overview of the playwrights life or as a resource as students analyze and explore Shakespeares works.
- The Poetry Mind Map can structure analysis and discussion of any poem as well as provide scaffolding for students as they review poetry independently.