Mind Mapping Improves Learning

how to mindmap

What is Mind Mapping?

Mind Mapping lets you visually organize information using spatial organization and a hierarchical structure of main branches and sub-branches, which is a useful strategy for constructing knowledge. It helps people make sense of what they’re learning by building connections between concepts and ideas. Integrating multimedia strengthens the learning.

Benefits of Mind Mapping

benefits of mindmapping

  • Helps students organize ideas and understand concepts better
  • Non-sequential way of organizing information works better than linear methods for some students
  • Shows the whole as well as the parts
  • Can be an assistive tool for people who are visually minded
  • Benefits found by the Institute for the Advancement of Research in Education study, 2003
    • Improves reading comprehension
    • Enhances critical thinking and learning skills
    • Supports cognitive learning theory
    • Increases retention

Uses of Mind Mapping

  • Brainstorm
  • Visualise concepts
  • Improve critical thinking
  • Outline written documents
  • Storyboard presentations
  • Review notes

Rules for Mind Mapping in the Buzan Method

  • One word per branch
  • Length of the word is the length of the branch
  • Use colours and images where possible
  • Be clear in your printing and organization

How to Mind Map

How to Mind Map with Tony Buzan – Use this as a basis to create a list for your students, or co-create the list with your students by looking at an example of a mind map

Examples

Resources

Free Technology Tools

  • Lucidchart (web, iOS, Android, Chrome, free premium version for educators and students, K+ with a GApp account)
  • MeisterTask (webChrome, free unlimited maps, great for G4+ if using GApps)
  • Mindomo (web, iOS, Android, Chrome, up to 3 free maps, great for MS+)
  • Kidspiration (iOS free for 5 maps, great for K+)
  • Popplet (iOS allows one map, great for K+)
  • 7 Steps to Making a Mind Map

Visit the Tony Buzan website for 7 Steps to Making a Mind Map. You may want to use the list as inspiration to create your own steps for your classroom.

 

This was part of a longer workshop that I presented to some teachers in Prague on Dec. 4, 2017.

Making Conferences Work for You

Conferences have proven to be an enduring approach to professional learning. Given the one time approach to professional learning, it is important that each participant plan for success when attending a conference. It can be easy to become distracted or overwhelmed at a big conference. Before going to a conference, stop and set an intention for your experience.

Conferences are a great opportunity for informal learning. Take the chance to speak to people between and during sessions to expand your knowledge of what’s happening in education beyond your experience.

Conferences, especially large ones, provide exposure to new technology. Before going to a conference, make a list of the tools/resources that you are dissatisfied with or problems that you have not found a solution for. Visit vendors and demos to find out resources that may meet your needs. Also take the opportunity for hands-on experience with tools that you are curious about or have never encountered before to build your knowledge base. If you’re going to ISTE 2017, check out this guide.

Attend sessions that are connected to your professional development plan. Look at the agenda to decide what value the conference offers you, and whether to attend. It’s okay to sit out a session; this could be a valuable opportunity to process a previous session and make a plan for integrating your new learning into your context. Spend some time looking at the schedule and select sessions that tie into your goals and plans, and that will help you achieve them. Have a focus.

Meet people from your virtual learning network. I’m a big fan of virtual connections but have to remember the importance of connections in the physical work. It adds a new dimension to the connections that you’ve built online when you can meet people in the physical world.

Present something that you’re excited or passionate about. Presenting lets you add the social element to learning which provides motivation and engagement. It also lets you cater to different personality types and learning preferences.

Take time to debrief. Share resources with those who may be interested, write some blog posts to expand and share your thinking, follow up with admin to clarify some goals, and implement some processes related to your own professional growth.

If you have a growth mindset, you can create your own learning experiences in a conference, or reframe the experiences provided to meet your goals and the needs of your role.

What strategies do you apply to grow from participation in conferences? I’d love to know what excites you about them.

 

This post is reformatted and expanded from the original.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay, CC0

15 Resources for Free Summer PD for Teachers

By the time summer comes around, most teachers are ready for the break. It’s important to take time to rest and rejuvenate, whether that means spending time alone or with friends and family. For many teachers, summer is also a time for professional learning, and personal growth. I’ve spent time each summer engaged in learning, whether by attending conferences, taking online courses, completing work for a graduate degree, exploring and playing with my many bookmarks and saved links, participating in educational twitter chats, etc. Some summers, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on courses. This summer, I’m staying in Prague and minimizing my expenses. I’d like to share with you some of the free resources that I am exploring for professional/personal development this summer.

  1. Explore online resources for teaching and learning. Some suggestions are The Current by Educator Innovator, and The Teaching Channel.
  2. Explore the available resources on the ISTE Conference page, by session. The conference takes place June 25 – 28. Even if you can’t be at the conference, participate in ISTE Unplugged Live (I’m presenting on using Google Tools for Organization). Also, you could follow the #ISTE17 and #NotatISTE hashtags for free resources motivated by the ISTE conference. Also join the NotatISTE Google + community
  3. Participate in a MOOC from the Friday Institute
  4. Learn something new on AtomicLearning for 90 days with code NOTATISTE
  5. Take a course on Coursera
    1. Get Organized: How to be a Together Teacher
  6. Learn Computer Science Fundamentals from Code.org
  7. Complete a Google certification or Digital Citizenship and Safety course
  8. Complete a Computational Thinking course
  9. Become an Apple Teacher
  10. Join and participate in the Facebook community for Apple Teachers
  11. Participate in the Microsoft Innovative Educator Program
  12. Take an Intel Teach Elements Course
  13. Take a self paced course from the Library of Congress
  14. Take the Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning Course created by Exploratorium
  15. Attend Edmodocon on August 1, 2017 to learn how Edmodo can be used in your classroom

Are you taking any other free courses this summer? Please share in the comments.

 

Feature image source: World Education Letters Learning, CC0

Analyzing the Learning2 PD Model

I attended my first Learning2 conference in 2010. While working in Nagoya, Japan, I convinced my school to send me to Learning2.010 in Shanghai. I was impressed by the format of the conference, and with the use of cohorts as well as extended sessions.

There is research on what works in professional development. I wrote my dissertation on that for my masters. I define effective professional development as that resulting in a change in practice or belief to align with best practices. The following are crucial elements of effective professional development.

  • School leadership support
  • Content and context focused
  • A culture of collaboration
  • Address teacher beliefs
  • Individualized and responsive to teachers’ needs
  • Ongoing long term PD

How well does Learning2 stack up against these 6 elements?

School leadership support – In a debrief session, a participant identified the need for getting more administrators as participants in Learning2 so that they can be true partners of change in schools, as opposed to cheering on the sideline.

Content and context focused – The host school is part of the planning for each Learning2 conference. This provides context about the state of education in the region and issues that are important to regional educators. This helps decide the structure of the conference (e.g. this conference had two teacher sessions each day instead of the typical single session). Each participant is also placed in self-selected cohorts directly related to their current or (near) future roles or content area. This provides opportunities to focus on content and context. However, individual participants should further curate their choices of sessions to match their context.

A culture of collaboration – Learning2 encourages cohorts to select platforms for collaboration during the conference as well as beyond. This is largely dependent on the individual cohort leaders and participants. Teachers may need to develop individual connections with presenters and other participants for just in time and one on one support. Social networks can be helpful in this, but there is no guarantee of it in the online world. A good model for schools to follow would be to send teams of teachers with common goals, so that they can support each other with implementation of new approaches and strategies when back at school. This may work well if the team has a particular focus or inquiry question before they come that they can use for filtering the content that they encounter. Another approach could be to decide the inquiry during a debrief after the conference is finished.

Address teacher beliefs – It is difficult for conference organizers to address teacher beliefs. This would fall on the presenters at individual workshops, and on members at the school. Learning2 has provided opportunities for exposure to different instructional strategies and student work through talks by educators and students, as well as through student presenters. In the sessions I attended, there were examples of student work. These could all potentially challenge teacher beliefs. Opportunities for reflection and teacher synthesis during sessions could also be helpful. A conference like Learning2 with is not tech focused but strongly tech infused often has many like minded people. It is important to consider how to draw a wide range of teachers from the field.

Individualized and responsive to teachers’ needs – Both cohorts and unconference sessions, as well as social events provide opportunities for personalized and responsive PD. The framework is provided; it is up to individual participants to engage in this process. It is also up to facilitators to make sure that a variety of voices are being heard and that individuals aren’t monopolizing the conversations.

Ongoing, long term PD – The extended sessions, which I think are the focus of the conference, provide a significant amount of time for the learning; I find 3 hours to be a comfortable length. For both extended sessions, the presenters had shared resources that participants could take with them for later support and further learning. Presenters of the teacher workshops also provided resources for further reference and use. While resources for extended sessions are available on the Learning2 site, those of teacher and student presentations are not. I think that this is an unfortunate oversight. The use of cohorts provide the opportunity for continued networking and professional learning beyond the conference. Participants can also connect with presenters on social networks for further conversations. One thing that I’ve intended to do when leading workshops is to highlight different types of instructional approaches as appropriate. As I reflect on the conference, I realize that I did not do that in my teacher workshop, and that presenters seldom do. The research shows that it’s helpful in PD to highlight appropriate instructional strategies, so perhaps that’s an area where presenters can all improve.

In general, Learning2 is a great model for professional learning. The benefit to the individual and to a school depends on the caliber of presenters, the planning and facilitation skills of the cohort leader, and the engagement of the individuals and school teams. These pieces interact with each other to provide an experience unique to each participant. Individual participants have great power (and responsibility) to determine what the impact of the conference will be in her professional life. In short, plan to participate in Learning2, be purposeful about what you participate in and how you do it, reflect after, create goals and next steps, and continue the conversation past the end of the conference. Do those things, and you’re sure to find that participating in Learning2 improves your teaching.

ICT in the PYP

The most important skills for being a lifelong learner who can make effective use of technology are:

  • risktaker
  • resourceful
  • curious

I have a girl in my class right now who has limited experience with computers but I love the fact that she is curious and ask questions in a continuous quest for understanding. She loves the opportunity to try new things on the computer. This engagement is great motivation for her learning.

I try to model problem-solving strategies to my students and my colleagues. I frequently point out to people that I don’t know the answer, but rather than I figure out the answer by trying things (often based on prior experience or curiosity), and searching the web and other resources for help. However, I wonder if there is a certain amount of familiarity with computers that helps people develop efficacy and agency for their own learning using computers; I suspect a reciprocal relationship.

This morning, I’m preparing a presentation for elementary teachers at my school. The presentation is on ICT in the PYP. The IBO advocates for technology being integrated into the curriculum to transform teaching and learning. Transformation feels like a buzz word in education. Do we have a handle on what it is? what it looks like? how we do it? What do we need to remove, add, change for transformation to occur? Can a school just jump to transformation or does transformation occur at the end of or as a consequence of a journey?

In our staff meeting on Wednesday, we’ll be discussing what technology integration could look like at our school. My plan is to work with teachers to map out some technology integration goals at each grade level, identifying a variety of tools that can help us achieve the goals. Below is the visual part of my presentation. We’ll be collaboratively working on a number of Google documents for most of the hour long session.