Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mind Mapping Graphic Organizers

This summer, I’m exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, I’ll 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. You’ll 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:

Example Mind Map If you’re 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)
Some of these tools include more sophisticated resources, but all include the most basic tools you need. If your school or district policies require that you use a tool that does not include a login, try the ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool.

For example maps you can share with students, be sure to visit TopicScape’s 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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Traci! This is a great post-- very useful.

Anonymous said...

I was just examining these options for my class in the fall. Perfect timing. Thanks!

David B$ said...

For those who have budgets for such things, a really terrific piece of mindmapping software is Novamind, site http://www.novamind.com. They have several versions at different price points, but the basic interface is fast and intuitive, and the latest versions allow import and export between several different kinds of file editors (including spreadsheet, text, HTML, and even project management software). Novamind was originally available only for Mac, but the latest version is also available on Windows. The site has a number of great tutorial documents for how to use mindmapping software of nay kind for a variety of purposes, so educators may wish to browse the online documents for tips about how to use mindmaps in the classroom, in course planning, in creating presentations, and in running meetings(!).

Unknown said...

Thanks for this topic its very usefully ... These graphic organizers most frequently have a single label in the middle of the map with related ideas spinning out in a connected pattern...Thanks for this blog....
Graphic Organizers

Ika Uni Pratiwi said...

what the difference between graphic organizer and mind map??

Evan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

this is wonderful piece of information...nice sharing!
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Evan said...

Creately is also mind map software to draw mind maps and 50+ other diagrams. It is easy draw mind maps with creately as there are 1000s of templates and examples to be used freely to draw mind maps.

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