The Joy of Mapping Storms

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The term brainstorming always seemed odd to me, the truth being; I love a classroom that’s in that brainstorming mode.  You’ve got to admit, it’s  pretty cool, ideas being generated, creative thinking in an unstructured manner and lots of participation.

The goal of brainstorming is to generate many ideas in a short period of time.  One of the key elements in brainstorming is a term I recently learned, “piggybacking,” or the use of one idea to stimulate another idea. Not only are ideas being tossed around, but you can feel the energy in the classroom change and there is almost this electricity that’s gets people restless in their seats. During brainstorming sessions, it important to record all ideas on the board, having no idea disregarded or criticized. When I began writing everything down, it was sometimes difficult to keep up with the students and I realized I needed to find a different and easier way in documenting those sessions.  I began using Mind Maps and the more I used them the easier and visually effective they became.

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Mind Mapping involves putting ideas in the form of a visual map that shows the relationship among these ideas. You start with a main idea or topic, and then draw branches off the main topic which could represent different parts or aspects of the main topic. A topic may have four or as many needed branches (sub-topics) and each of those branches may have branches and, well, you get the picture.  As the brainstorming progresses and ideas are being added to the Mind Map, a visual map and if you want to really be creative, a very colorful and cool map covers you whiteboard. Not only do I like the creativity of Mind Mapping, but how it easily brings in important attributes which are associated with creative problem solving skills.  Such as:

  1.  The ability to generate a number of ideas which then brings an increase of possibilities.
  2. The ability to have a different perception of a problem, yielding other possible solutions.
  3.  The ability to add or build off an idea.
  4.  The ability to create new ideas
  5.  The willingness to be brave…suggesting something out of the norm

We know that most students retain information and have better retention if learned by both visual and verbal presentations, but having students be part of the creation of the Mind Mapping, becomes not only effective, but fun.  Also, students that may have learning challenges benefit from this type of visual aid.

So, I’ve become a map maker, charting  today’s lesson and creating a path as I go.  It’s true, “it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters.”

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