Thursday, August 26, 2021

Five Benefits of Conducting Mind Mapping Activities

On Wednesday morning I published a long list of tools that students can use to create mind maps, concept maps, and flowcharts. What I didn't include in that blog post was a description of the differences between the those three things. I also didn't outline the benefits of mind mapping that students can experience. The purposes of this post are to explain the difference between mind maps and concept maps as well as list some benefits of having students complete mind mapping activities. 

Mind Maps versus Concept Maps
The process of creating a digital mind map begins with one key word or term placed in the center of the screen. Often, the central key word or term is represented by an image or icon. From that central word or term students add lines to connect to other words, terms, or ideas that they associate with the central word or term. Images and icons can be used to represent the associated words and terms. Students may use multiple font and line colors and sizes to indicate relationships or similarities between the words and terms in their mind maps. Finally, other than having a central word or term from which all ideas emanate, a mind map does not need to be arranged in a hierarchical manner nor should it be used as an assessment tool.

While concept maps and mind maps have similarities there are noteworthy differences. First, a concept map often has a hierarchical structure that is used to show the connections and segments of a large concept. Second, when an hierarchical structure is used for a concept map it is possible for there to be incorrect connections created. For example, a student creating a concept map about the seasons of the year would be incorrect to place "leaves change color" as a branch of "winter" instead of as a branch of "autumn." 

Five Benefits of Conducting Mind Mapping Activities
  1. When students create mind maps then share them with their teachers, teachers can gain some insight into how students currently view the connections between the parts of a given topic. 
  2. There are some studies indicating that when students create mind maps from scratch rather than working from a template provided by their teachers, recall and test scores improve. 
  3. Creating mind maps can generate new ideas and lead to ideas for further discussion and or research. 
  4. Using mind maps as part of an instructional strategy can help some students improve their reading comprehension skills.
  5. Creating mind maps can help students see connections between mathematics concepts and "the rest of the world." 

Five Ideas for Using Google Drawings This Fall

A couple of weeks ago I shared directions for an icebreaker activity that can be done in Jamboard or Google Drawings. Jamboard and Google Drawings have a lot of similarities. There are some differences between the two that can make one better than the other depending upon the use case. Here are five ways to think about using Google Drawings in your online or in-person classroom this fall. 

Create Labeling Activities
Google Drawings lets you import images that you can then draw on top of. One of the ways that I've used this in the past is to create a map labeling activity. To do that just open a new Google Drawing and then use the integrated image search to find a map. Once you've selected a map you can use the drawing tools to mark on it. Here's a demonstration of how the whol process works including distribution through Google Classroom.

Virtual Icebreakers
I shared this idea a few weeks ago, but it's worth repeating for those who missed it. The idea is to have students virtually place themselves anywhere in the world through the use of Google Drawings. To do this students first need to find a picture of themselves and remove the background from it. Photoscissors makes it quick and easy to remove the background then download a new background-free image. Once they have a picture of themselves then students open Google Drawings where they insert a picture of place that they want to visit or revisit. Finally, they then insert their profile picture over the background image in Google Drawings. Those steps might sound complicated, but they're not. In this short video I show the whole process. 

Create Flowcharts
Google Drawings is an excellent tool for creating flowcharts. You can make your own and distribute them to your students via Google Classroom or have them make their own flowcharts to demonstrate an understanding of a process. This video shows you how to create a flowchart with Google Drawings and then distribute it to your students via Google Classroom. 

Make a Digital Turkey
Last fall I received an email from a reader who was looking for some ideas on how do a digital version of the classic Thanksgiving Thankfulness Turkey project in which students add feathers to a drawing of turkey and each feather has something they're thankful for written on it. My suggestion for creating a digital version of the Thankful Turkey was to use a combination of Pixabay and Google Drawings. I made this short video to illustrate how that process would work. 

Create Your Own Icons and Shapegrams
Tony Vincent offers a complete website all about how to create your own shapegrams and icons. In December of 2019 he was kind enough to present a webinar during the Practical Ed Tech Creativity Conference. In that webinar he gave us a crash course on some of the finer points of using Google Drawings. You can watch that webinar recording here