Tag Archives: Mind Meister

Mind Mapping in my Classroom with MindMeister – The Winners are In!

In my article: “Mind Mapping in the Classroom with MindMeister,” I called for submissions in a contest to win a free, one year professional subscription to MindMeister. The results are in (and impessive)! The three winners, in no particular order, are:

Colleen Donley-Zori, Ph.D. discussed how she would use the program to teach a Collegiate level extension course at UCLA:

Over the course of the quarter, you will be responsible for submitting at least one “mind map” that links concepts presented in the readings with the information covered in the lecture.  You will do the readings before class, hear the lecture, and then construct the map to connect the readings to the lecture.  The mind-maps will be shared among the class each week, and they can be subsequently edited and added to, and then used in preparing for the exams.

During the first week, I will randomly assign you one or more weeks (depending on the number of students in the class) to construct a mind map using MindMeister software, a free on-line application that can be used to map connections between concepts.  I will provide an example and more guidelines the first week of class.

Ben Beachy highlighted MindMeister’s presentation features (specific course content has been obscured for copyright reasons):

I have replaced PowerPoint slide decks with mindmaps for lecture. PowerPoint slides often seem disconnected from each other: just topic, topic, topic, topic. Mindmaps help the students–and me–keep the broader context in view.

Kellie Determine (a K-5 visual arts teacher in the Waterford School District) highlighted its potential use in the elementary environment:

In my work environment, k-5 art, I’m thinking I can use it with my 4th and 5th grade classes. We can map media and materials usage, art movements and examples, the elements and principles of design with examples and historical dates, critical analysis of masterworks with Visual Thinking Strategies, we can do so much that my list could go on and on. I’m also thinking about taking this to my PLC group to help organize and plan for our team outcomes. I can see each of us utilizing this tool in multiple ways.

Thank you to everyone who participated and congratulations to the winners! Look for your license information in your mailboxes shortly! And thank you to MindMeister for providing the licenses for this prize!

Mind Mapping in my Classroom with MindMeister

Reposted from: Voices of the Learning Revolution

Mind Mapping is one of the hot buzzwords being thrown around in the world of pedagogy. What exactly are Mind Maps? Well, in simple terms, they’re those old bubble brainstorming maps that we were all forced to draw in the 8th grade. If you were especially artistic, yours may have looked something like this:

Personally, mine were always much less colorful and dynamic!

However, Mind Mapping has come a very long way in recent years, especially with the assistance of technology. No longer are Mind Maps stagnant and immutable images – they are malleable, dynamic, and even collaborative. People are using Mind Mapping for organizing their personal life, developing business ideas, and in a variety of educational environments.

In this post I want to highlight my favorite Mind Mapping software – MindMeister — and talk about several ways I use mind maps in my classroom. If you think you might like it as much as I do, you may want to participate in an opportunity (I’ll describe it at the end of my post) to get a free professional account for a year.

There are many similar products out on the market today (both free and fee-based), but what sets MindMeister apart (in my mind) is that it provides simultaneously collaborative brainstorming and visualization tools using cloud technology. If you would like to see how MindMeister works, check out this brief video:

As you can see, MindMeister has numerous features and allows a great deal of flexibility and creativity. MindMeister also allows for portability with its “Mobile Apps” for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. You can take your maps on the go!

MindMeister has many different plans and pricing tiers, from its basic Individual Account, which is free and allows three individual maps, to its extensive Business Pro accounts that provide broad technical support and an array of tools. They also provide deep discounts for educational institutions and non-profits. All of these plans come with a 30-day free trial so you can find out what works best for you and your organization.

MindMeister in the Classroom

While MindMeister has been successfully employed in many sectors, my greatest interest is utilizing it as a tool in education. I have been using the software for the past year both for my own planning and development and as a classroom tool. As an educator, I use it to plan my lessons, organize my writing, and to even blueprint some personal things in my life (perhaps outlining that novel I’m writing…).

The classroom, however, is a different story. For me, the best aspect of MindMiester its ability to promote collaborative work (and its availability on nearly every platform). My students can access maps from their mobile devices or any computer with an Internet connection. I have used it in the classroom for students to brainstorm a discussion, to begin to organize their ideas for papers and projects, and even to help them study for tests and quizzes. I have had dozens of students simultaneously editing the same document for all of these exercises – a key feature in my experience, as it opens the way to innovative discussion and teamwork.

Last year, I had students proudly share a map with me that several of them had been using at home to study for their final exam in my history class. I recorded it in my blog: “Students Using MindMeister as a Study Tool.” More than a dozen students, in different class sections and in their own homes, produced this impressive map using the review sheet!

Mind Mapping class discussions

I like to use MindMeister to help organize class discussions. My students recently finished a unit on the Code of Hammurabi. I divided the class into four groups to focus on laws related to class and status: Civil Law, Criminal Law, Family Law, and Other, which dealt with anything that didn’t fit into the other three – a hodgepodge. (Click to enlarge the map.)

The whole class had access and ability to edit the document. Each group (using their smart phones) edited a section, listing off the ways that different laws treated individuals based on their class and/or status.

I gave them 15 minutes to edit, then we returned as a group and discussed. We even made a few additions and edits together. This is one of those activities where I’m telling students to get on their phones instead of get off of them!

How would you use MindMeister?

So, now comes the most exciting part of this post. How would you use MindMeister in your classroom? Do you think it would fit well into a lesson plan? A group discussion? As a planning tool? The field is wide open.

Not long ago, MindMeister contacted me and asked if I’d like to give away three, one-year professional accounts (a $120 value). What better place to do so than here at the Voices blog, where educators are always looking for ways to blend good technology into strategies that can deepen student thinking and learning.

These Pro accounts allow unlimited mind-maps, automatic backups, sharing tools, extensive technical support, and much more. The three best ideas will win the coveted prize!

To get started, if you do not already have one, go to MindMeister and sign up for a free account (or a 30 day free trial of a paid version if you would like play with all of the bells and whistles). If you have a blog, write a post describing at least one bright idea about how you might use this mind mapping tool in your teaching or professional learning. Then leave a comment here that includes the link to your blog post. If you don’t have a blog, post your idea in the comments section of this post or send it to me via email. I’ll post the best ideas and announce the winners. All submissions are due no later than October 15. Any school-based educator is eligible.

I can’t wait to see what you all do with this!

1st image: Creative Commons, Wikipedia

Preparing for my Conference Talk – Cell Phones, From Enemy to Asset in the Classroom

On January 3, I will be presenting a talk/workshop for the Independent Curriculum Group at St. Stephens Episcopal School in Austin. I’ve got 75 whole minutes to fill up and am a bit nervous about that – I mean, I love hearing my own voice but that is a lot of time to fill. I anticipate having a lot of hands-on activities, but most people won’t have the software or apps in advance.

So, here’s a summary of my talk:

From Enemy to Asset: Cell Phones in the Classroom
Cell phones have replaced note-passing as the biggest distraction in the classroom. Schools have tried to attack the problem with blanket bans or restrictive policies. But what if instead of viewing cell phones as the enemy, we use them as teaching tools? Most students have more computing power in their pocket than was used by NASA to send men to the moon. This session will explore innovative classroom uses for cell phones.

So, here are a few of the points I want to highlight:

Existing Policies on Cell Phones & Administrative Concerns

  • Most schools have prohibitive policies on cell phones – from outright campus bans to limited use policies
  • Most schools are concerned about the rise of Cyber-bullying and the role that cell phones play in this
  • Cell phones can be a huge distraction – I’m trying to lecture and my student is updating their Facebook status

How Can they be Productive?

  • Directed Use Policies – technology can be used for a specific purpose, otherwise, it’s put away
  • Social Media/Technology Behavior policies – just like punching a kid in the locker room isn’t okay, neither is posting nasty things on the internet. Behavioral education, education, education… both for teachers and students.
  • Like a calculator or even a pencil, it can be a tool or a distraction.
  • One of my favorite quotes: “You can use a hammer to bash someone’s head in… but it’s also really great for hammering in nails.” Tools are all about how you use them.

So…. what’s my plan?

How am I going to use up this amount of time and stay dynamic? My plan is to incorporate a series of demonstrations and activities. One tool that I will definitely be using extensively is a program called Poll Everywhere. It’s a great program that I use in my class a lot – in fact, my students will constantly ask “Can we do the texting thing?” If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a couple of previous posts I did on Poll Everywhere – “First Day Using Poll-Everywhere” and “Using Poll-Everywhere Day #2.”

I think I will have a combination of directed questions and back channeling, for directed questions:

  • Who here has a school with some sort of restricted use on cell phones? (Maybe even more specific any school ban cell phones)?
  • Who here has confiscated a cell phone in class?
  • Who has directed students to use them in the classroom?

Then I may set up a back channel on a topic like:

  • What are your concerns about using cell phones in the classroom?
  • What advantages do you see?
  • How do we deal with classroom management? etc

Maybe after this, I’ll throw in a word cloud, just for fun.

Another activity I’m considering is ‘obscure fact look up’. I’ll break the group into teams and give them a list of obscure trivia and see who can finish the list first. Maybe I’ll direct it from a book – I’ll take all of the information out of one textbook and we’ll race to see who can find this information first and what is more accurate?

Another program I would love to demonstrate is MindMeister. Perhaps set up a Mind Map and let them go. Of course, the problem with this is that it requires a smart phone, a Mind Meister account, as well as a compatible Smart Phone.

Perhaps I’ll try to get a few people to download and participate in the process.

A few other ideas that I have that I’m considering:

Digital Storytelling – there are a few Digital Storytelling Apps (free ones) for the iPhone, I’ll need to play with them.

Movie Making – On my iPhone I can shoot, edit and create a brief video – even upload it to YouTube. Perhaps that could be a cool activity? It will need to be more directed of course.

As you can see, I’m still in the early stages. I would love contributions and ideas!

Students Using MindMeister as a Study Tool

Recently, our school purchased a license to an amazing Mind Maping application called MindMeister. If your’e not familiar with it, MindMeister is a mind-mapping, brainstorming, and collaborating tool. This is finals week. I just got an email from a couple of my students telling me that they were collaboratively studying for the test via a MindMeister map and sent me an invite. Here is what I saw (or a portion of it, it won’t all fit on the screen).

They were using the tool to collaboratively work on their review sheet, exchange information and ideas, and correct one another’s mistakes – all from their own homes. One student even told me: “This is actually making studying more fun, and not as much of a drag.”

Looking through, they’re doing some real work here. Very impressive – and anything that makes studying less painful, I’m in favor of!

TVS Tech Kids – Final Day

Today was our last day of class. It was an intense experience, but very rewarding. Some of the tools went over better than others.

Today, we proceeded with the lesson plan for Google that I devised. The previous day, the students asked me if they could spend more time playing with the various Google Applications, and I gave them the last 30 minutes of class to do so. With Google Docs, I had them create and share a file with their classmates. One of them commented on how cool it was that they could see the name and time of the person who edited.

They played with a number of additional tools – Google Earth was the most popular and they really loved the Google Goggles feature of the mobile app search. Those who had capable phones started running around the classroom and taking photos (only a few searched successfully). As all of our other lesson plans, we had a Mind Meister map created

I also took about five minutes to introduce the students to DropBox. DropBox is one of my favorite free applications of all time. Heck, it will likely go into best software paid or free. If you’re unfamiliar with DropBox, they have a great video that introduces you to the tools:

If you decide to sign up, do it from one of my links above (you and I will both get a free additional 250mb of storage).

Here is another great instruction/how-to video on using DropBox

The last 30 minutes of class, I let them play around with any tools they liked – most of them played with Google Earth others with Evernote… the most popular were the applications that also felt like games with Google Flight Simulator being the most popular.

Afterwards, I asked the students if they honestly saw themselves using any of these tools in their school work. Some of them said no, but when I started to ask more directed questions like “What about using Google Docs to make a Presentation?” or “How about using Evernote to organize your research?” They started to make some more direct connections. One of them even asked me if I would be teaching another class on this material this summer.

It was a good summer – it was my first tech class. Most of the kids were eager and open to learning new material. They were all bright an innovative and I had a great time with them. There are definitely things I would do differently if I taught this class again.

If you want to see my lesson plans, you can see them here:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3 (and this would be day four’s).

The software we specifically used was:

Mind Meister

Diigo

Evernote

DropBox

Google Docs and various other Apps you can find at Google