Tony Buzan has developed and continues to improve a theory and technique he coined “mind mapping” back in the 1970s. This is a valuable teaching strategy. It can help students not only organize their thoughts, but also develop spontaneous associations with whatever subjects they are working on in school or even at home. This technique helps people focus and develop their creativity, thoughts, projects, books, papers, courses and improve memory skills, reduce stress and can be done just for fun. Tony Buzan’s website ThinkBuzan.com is full of information and help. He is also selling the iMindMap Ultimate Plus Pack. This is a program with software, templates and a resource pack.
Some folks think of mind maps of a web, but for me it is an alternative outlet for organizing my thoughts that can also include artwork. For children and young adults, this artwork serves as a pathway to their own ideas and creativity. To do a mind map, start with a word or short phrase that describes the essence of the subject. Draw a circle around it. This is the central idea. Each arm that stems from the center has a specific purpose. The arms can show what a child wants to write about or study, or they can represent a child’s learning. From each of these stems comes more information that is organized based on the theme of the stem. For younger students a mind map can start with a topic like “friends.” A student might express his/her background knowledge about a science concept, and an older student could use it to do an author study, creating stems about an author’s life, his/her works, genres, characters, plot, and conflict, opinions, story lines and resolution.
Another technique is to develop a group mind map for your classroom. A group mind map is a collaborative project students create to express their understanding of a topic. The center is the primary theme while the arms are more specific ideas the class wants to explore in order to share its thinking. Mind maps can demonstrate what a class has learned from a unit. If the central theme is U.S. History, the stems can discuss different aspects of U.S. History the class has studied. As a group the students collaborate to add information to the mind map to create an artifact that the children can refer to throughout the unit and add to as they learn new things.
Mind maps are my best friend when I start a book or workshop. They not only help me focus but also help me generate many different ideas, images streams of thought on a piece of paper that I can use for weeks or months down the road.
Mind mapping can be simple or very complicated. It is easy technique to use for personal creativity or organization of a teaching project. All ideas are accepted and are incorporated into the map. There are so many academic subjects that this strategy works well with and the students become totally engaged and feel part of the group. Governments, educational authorities, schools, multinational corporations, businesses, teachers and writers all use mind maps.