Mind maps

2 Feb

Getting students to organise word lists into mind maps is such an obvious idea that it hardly needs stating. However, persuading students (or teachers, for that matter) to use them is not always easy. Jim Scrivener (Straightforward Upper Intermediate Teacher’s Book, Macmillan 2007, p.66) writes that mind maps ‘are good because they are not just a linear record of the things that came up in a lesson […] but they force the learner to make sense of and structure it, finding a way of organizing this data. The apparently simple decision of “Where shall I write this?” and “How shall I write this?” is already assisting the act of memorizing and storing within the brain. Mind maps are also superb for accessing information later on.’ In order to encourage students ‘sell’ the idea of mind maps to your students, Jim (p.74) suggests the following:

  • Allocate class time to mind-mapping and other vocabulary recording activities.
  • Check the students’ vocabulary recording work and get them to compare their approaches.
  • Give your students partially completed mind maps which they must finish off.
  • Emphasize that mind maps are personal, and that there is not one way of doing them.
  • Encourage students to return to mind maps and rework them.
  • Use mind maps yourself when presenting vocabulary on the board.

It is also a good idea to ask students who produce particularly good mind maps if you can copy them for use with other classes.

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