Mind Maps are graphic representations of information that show both small units of information and their relationships in a visual way. Concept maps,( or story maps, graphic organizers, advance organizers, story webs, semantic maps, and cognitive organizers), are often used to teach text structure and to aid in comprehension, helping students understand multiple layered concepts.
Research shows student understanding improves greatly when concept organizers are used to help students at all levels comprehend everything from developing a story line or research paper to problem solving.
Research on Elementary Mind Mapping
Research on Mind Mapping for Chemistry Students
My students value concept maps when we are going through decision making regarding polynomial behaviors so I have been testing some different graphic organizers for the iPad and found a few that are currently free. Here is what I found:
Idea Sketch has many features and choices in organization. Idea Sketch is far better from what I experienced while using simplemind+ or Mindjet. Idea Sketch allows you to fill out the outline form and it will convert your outline into a mind map/ flow chart for you, or you can freestyle the mind map and the outline will develop for you.
DropMind Lite has some neat features, allowing you to embed notes within the concept map. it too was free or build in subtopics.
A full Graphic organizer bank App that costs $.99 right now is “Tools 4 Students” which contains 25 different styles of graphic organizer styles. It is a relatively new App but reviews seem strong and I have played with its many features. This App shows a lot of potential ease in integrating into lessons, saving the time that would otherwise be used to actually organize layout for each student’s specific organizer.
iThoughtsHD seems really great but I just don’t have the courage to spend $10 on an app for concept mapping- though I will watch for this to come on sale… If you are an English or History teacher, you may value this app more and $10 would not seem too outrageous it has strong reviews and the screen shots look impressive.
Another interesting app allows students to work together, each with their own pad or computer. Students could use this app to solve problems or discuss concepts together, before creating a mind map. “Group Board” is worth adding to see how you can empower your kids to work together in problem solving. I have been using this App with our At Risk Ess 1 Math students as a way to differentiate and remediate instruction, while encouraging metacognition and organize thoughts or solutions. Add Group board as an App, then download the free version ( not free trial) of group board onto your computer(s). The free version will allow up to 5 individual ipads/ computers to be signed in at a time. I use pairs of students on 3 different group board PC accounts, allowing students to work on 3 different problems, rotating through the different pairs of group board Pads. When students who struggle start by organizing their thoughts with Peers before trying to create a mind map using the other organizer tools listed.
All these apps would helpful to many struggling learners because the process of building the organizer and working together with peers reach deeper levels of learning, analyzing and experiencing metacognition, helping the student understand the learning target, learning how concepts relate within the target.
More research regarding Concept Map effectiveness