Teaching Prewriting Strategies: Mind Mapping

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Today, I found a great resource for explaining the benefits of Mind Mapping. It from Mind Meister’s Creativity and Productivity Blog.

Mind Meister explains mind maps as “graphical representations of information. In contrast to the traditional, linear notes you make in a text document, mind maps let you capture thoughts, ideas and keywords on a blank canvas where you can organize them in a two-dimensional structure. The title/main idea is always located in the center of the map and thus always clearly visible. Related ideas branch off from the center in all directions, creating a radiant structure.”

In my own experience, I have used mind maps for helping students do prewriting activities. Rather than simply just ask students to write “What did you do this weekend?”, I ask them to practice prewriting strategies such as outlining, listing, and mind-mapping.

I think having this opportunity to organize one’s thoughts on the page is incredibly helpful for students of all levels. For struggling students, it helps them organize their main ideas, examples, and explanations before they ever even start their paragraph. For students who are already good writers, it helps them practice restraint, categorization, and help create hierarchies of more sophisticated ideas.

I often have students practice numerous prewriting strategies at the same time, on the very same worksheet, right next to each other, so they can make cognitive connections between the more visual-spatial thinking of mind maps alongside the more traditional listed outlines that are more easily translated into paragraphs.

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