This post originally appeared on the blog Study All Knight.
It is no lie – students do not enjoy taking notes. At all. It’s boring, they can’t follow along, and notes are hard to study from. Is there any other way for our students to still ‘take notes’ but in a fun and creative way? Or course there is! Start using creative mind map lessons!
Better yet, I am providing them in both a PDF version for those who prefer doing things with paper and pencil (or crayon and markers) and in a paperless version for those who prefer to complete this in a tech-infused classroom.
The best thing about these types of maps are they can be used for any class, for any lesson, and for any text. All your students have to worry about is coloring and being CREATIVE!
Mind mapping is pretty awesome. It’s a tool that incorporates graphics, words, numbers, and color that represent and reflect a specific lesson or concept. Students tend to memorize and remember facts and concepts so much more when they can associate color and images to it.
Using creative mind map lessons in your classroom allows your students to add their own doodle notes, pictures, symbols, branches, colors, and visuals to their work. It’s an inspiring and logical way to engage in note-taking that “maps out” your ideas in free-form. They can be used for:
- Note taking
- Brainstorming (individually or in groups)
- Problem solving
- Studying and memorization
- Researching and consolidating information from multiple sources
- Gaining insight on complex subjects
- Jogging your creativity
The process of creative mind map lessons takes place in “real-time,” meaning this: It is not an afterthought or a poster project. It is not a post-assessment. Teachers misuse mind maps as a way to organize notes or have students present a poster of information to their peers with large scale images.
The mind map is used as a way to visually brainstorm and gather ideas. Mind maps are great to look at after they are created. This is why students love them. You can apply the process for the early stages of generating ideas, laying out a project, or gathering evidence.
Minds maps are not meant to be graded with a rubric or even graded at all. You want the students to learn through the entire process.
Students can use mind maps to link together different concepts, generate more ideas, organize their thoughts, and find new pathways for concepts that they normally would never have thought of if they were taking standard notes. When it’s all complete, it looks like a tree with a bunch of branches that stem from whatever topic you wish you assign.
Students can sit together and discuss their mind maps. As you facilitate the activity, reinforce the idea that the product is individual, original, and personal. Students should not fill in their mind map based on what their friends wrote.
How to Mind Map using an activity from Study All Knight:
Print the PDF. You have a choice between the gray scale or the color version. For PAPERLESS, I recommend the brightly colored version.
Make your page (PDF or Google Slide) HORIZONTAL OR LANDSCAPE. This will give you more room. You are not starting from scratch- but, here is the idea of the mind map for you to understand better the philosophy behind it.
Find the CENTER of the page. This is where your MAIN IDEA/TOPIC/THEME/ETC will go. For better creativity, using an IMAGE that represents the main idea works best.
Your BRANCHES will stem from the main idea. These branches will contain notes and facts and information related to the main idea. These branches will also have secondary and tertiary branches that contain further information that builds upon the prior branch. They all contain associations and relationships.
On each branch, use a KEYWORD rather than a sentence. It’s easier to look at and to remember. Use IMAGES and COLOR throughout as well.
In my resources, I include clip art for your students to color. You will see I have inserted “light gray” lines throughout the map for your students to add their own text. I’ve included versions without the lines, too.
Your students should add their own text on blanks. You can prompt them to do this through a guided lesson OR your students can do this on their own.
Coloring and creativity are SO important
with mind mapping and creative mind map lessons!
Paperless? GOOGLE Drive? Allow your students to insert images from the web and add text by inserting text boxes. The mind map resources also work amazingly well with the Notability app and Microsoft One Note. Just upload the color version PDF file to the application. Then from there you can use a stylus to add the text or draw beautiful images.
Another awesome tool our students can use that replace standard note-taking is concept mapping. These types of maps can be used to represent the relationships students can build within a main idea or topic and its general and specific concepts. Students can use concept mapping to better understand theories and concepts related to a given topic, to group concepts into subgroups of concepts and to understand relationships of each concept and how everything is related to one another. It also encourages creativity from the student in the form of brainstorming and enhances the use of higher-level thinking.
How to Concept Map
Decide what the main idea/topic will be for your students. Like the mind mapping format, you can place the main idea/topic in the middle of a landscaped page.
Students will then determine key concepts related to that main idea. They should start with more general concepts first and then gradually create more specific concepts.
Students then connect the different concepts together, showing how they are further related to one another.
As they make these further connections, they use a KEYWORD to represent that further connection as sort of an explanation of WHY/HOW they are connected. This can be done by drawing arrows or just lines and writing on top or inside the arrow.
Similarly, the use of COLOR and IMAGES when using concept mapping will help students remember information more efficiently and help understand concepts and their relationships better.
Mind mapping and concept mapping are both more effective at helping students understand main ideas and their related concepts. When using my resources, I strongly encourage the students take the time to be CREATIVE with their use of imagery and coloring. Again, I provide both a PDF and a Paperless version to fit the needs of your classroom.
Look for more coming soon! I love them! I am busy creating a wide variety of mind maps for a variety of texts and main ideas. I am exploring my love for teaching literature and the possibilities of using mind maps to visualize “all things English language arts.” My goal is for you and your students to enjoy creative mind map lessons as much as I do!
Danielle Knight has been a TpT seller since 2012. She is a New Jersey secondary special education ELA teacher. Danielle has years experience facilitating small group instruction classes and as an inclusion teacher. Her husband is an elementary physical education teacher. Together, they have two sons. She is the creator of Study All Knight and a member of Tech With Us. Her TpT store is filled with versatile materials for the 21st century learner, mobile and personalized learning, differentiation, and a student-centered classroom. Danielle prides herself on exploring innovative and emerging technologies and how to create original teaching materials for the future. “I strive to build successful partnerships within the TpT community, balance my instructional design endeavors, and be present in our family’s lives.”