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Mind Mapping is a Creative Way to Improve Comprehension.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Nov 22, 2011 1:55:00 PM

K-12 teachers use the strategy of mind mapping for reading comprehensionMind mapping, also referred to as webbing or thinking maps is a valuable strategy for students to use to support and improve reading comprehension. Coined by Tony Buzan, mind mapping helps students structure and order their thinking by creating a visual representation of concepts and their understanding.  Mind mapping can be used to improve reading comprehension in both fiction and non-fiction texts, and across a variety of genres. Mind maps work because they give the reader another (visual) way to process information. Because the concept of a story is depicted through images—and can show their graphic relationship to each other— the reader is given more information in which to aid his or her understanding. This strategy really works; there are many ways to implement mind mapping in your elementary classroom:
  • For non-fiction texts the mind map should contain the main idea in the center, branching out to supporting ideas or facts.  Each of the supporting facts can also contain branches to further add information as it relates to the main idea.  If using a mind map for a fiction text, students should be asked to use the center of the mind map for the title of the book or piece of text. The related concepts that connect to the title may include characters, setting, plot, events, etc.  Each of these related concepts may also then branch out to other story details or student inferences.

  • To introduce the concept to your students you may want to model creating a mind map during a read aloud.  Students will be able to learn from your "think alouds" (Davey, B. (1983) as an introduction to the strategy.  As students become more familiar with the strategy you can extend the modeling to each student completing their own mind map on a shared text. Eventually, through gradual release of responsibility, students will be able to complete their own mind map while independently reading a text.

  • As a way to support understanding and improve reading comprehension teachers may want to require students to complete a mind map as part of a review or culminating assignment.  This is a strategy that is beneficial when used both in formative and summative tasks.  A mind map can be a great way for students to display their thinking and what they learned from reading a text.

  • To further aid your students' mind mapping, you may want to employ the use of technical applications for mind map creation. Text2MindMap and Bubbl are both free web-based mind map generators. There is also an app available for the iPod Touch and iPad, iMindMap Mobile Pro, which allows users to create their mind maps directly on the device, save and sync to a computer.

  • Teachers can get their own creative juices flowing with this wonderful “how-to” from thoughtwrestling .com.

However you decide to use mind mapping in your classroom, you are sure to see results in even the most hard-to-reach students.  Keep it a light-hearted activity and you will reap many rewards.

For more ways to engage students and improve reading comprehension, download our free Best Practices Guide on K-6 Reading Comprehension.
Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: mind mapping, reading comprehension, reading strategies

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