I tried out my new, improved Mind Map presentation on Thursday to an audience of seven: five K-12 teachers, one college professor, and one professor emeritus. I'm pleased with the response and glad I decided to use the Prezi presentation embedded in my previous post here as the vehicle to propel the show. I was also able to make the point that mind maps, Prezi and Twitter are all tools that get right to the good stuff (the heart of the matter). Always the jokester, I pointed out that in high school and college I was never able to pad my essay answers with "BS" as most of the other students did. My answers tended to be concise and rather short. (My friends will tell you that my storytelling is not, however.) This is why I love mind maps, Prezi and Twitter: they eliminate the extra padding and get to the core concepts.
Since my attendees were all teachers, I threw in another point. I showed them how mind maps (and other visual organizations of information) help a visual learner make connections and attain deeper learning, climbing up the ladder of Bloom's Taxonomy (usually also represented with a visual). I showed them the mind map I used to organize my essay about the Delaware Bay into a rondo form. I never would have thought to do that while staring at a bunch of linear notes. And then there was the mind map I created when my book club read the book Snow in August by Pete Hamill. I portrayed the various characters in my mind map as heroes or villains as the young narrator did and then realized that there was also a recurring theme of fairy tales running through the text. Many details from the boy's life had to do with the Brooklyn Dodgers, so those got their own mind map branch. Without the experience of making a mind map, I don't think I would have made the connections between the fairy tale and Dodger details.
I told the group about the time I helped my goddaughter with a science fair project on the fruit fly. I hoped this story would convince them that mind maps are a help to any age learner. (We grasp the concept of pictures way before we learn language.) Hope had done some fruit fly research at school and I had gathered a few things for her. I debated whether I should introduce her to mind maps to organize all of her information. I decided to watch how she approached the task and was delighted to see that she started with a mind map! She called it something else (the nomenclature is somewhat elastic), but it was without a doubt a mind map. That story was a hit.
The Periodic Table of Visualization Methods (http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html) provoked an audible reaction as did my Delicious.com link loaded with resources (http://delicious.com/margaretmontet/mindmaps). Among the many positive comments at the end, one teacher told me she was going to try mind maps to organize her students. If nothing else, I gave these teachers some practical, usable ideas to take back to their classrooms in September.
Click here for a link to a Prezi slideshow of selected mind maps and other types of visualizations.