Re-thinking Mind Maps


Min map
I invented this cognitive organiser partly out of frustration with mind maps in general. I feel that in terms of the way they are most often used, simple mind maps promote closed, lower-order thinking that at best shows an ability to organise ideas into headings and sub-headings (or topics/sub-topics) and, at worst, a simple form of word association – which are easy enough to get from a thesaurus.
My four-colour+ style of mind map uses colours to show increasing layers of complexity and/or specificity. A legend to the right allows the student to demonstrate the types of thinking or organising principles used for each of the colours, with the idea that as the map builds outward, the thinking will become more sophisticated, progressing from individual words/ideas to more structured sentences (e.g. quotations, problems, solutions, own thinking, etc.).
Rachel's map
You can see this with the Iago example, where Rachel has started with character adjectives and then built outwards to include situations/events, key quotes, language features/techniques and even added her own colour (pink) to explain her synthesised ideas. Rachel made her own decisions about what the colours would represent as part of constructing the mind map, using mine as suggestions (and I would of course emphasise this all the more for brighter students). The PEEL strategy of “Challenge the organising principle” is an important one for effectively planning a good four colour+ mind map.
Screen shot 2011 05 28 at 5 35 21 PM
Of course, the mind map works well on good old-fashioned paper – but the template you see here has been submitted by me to the my school’s templates gallery – so is fully customisable within Google Docs.




About Michael

Cellist, singer/songwriter, school teacher, nerd, recent scooter enthusiast and failed philosopher.
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1 Response to Re-thinking Mind Maps

  1. David Norris says:

    Hi Michael,

    This is fantastic pedagogy and your mind map is much more user-friendly as a result. I was wondering if you could please email a better quality “Iago Mind Map” to show my students and colleagues your work at my College.

    Thanking you in advance and keep up the good work.


    David Norris

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