I visit this website daily to discover which e-books are available for free, and a few days ago I noticed Mind Mapping for Kids: How Elementary School Students Can Use Mind Maps to Improve Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking by Toni Krasnic so I downloaded it. You can find very good books on the website, but when they are first published, the authors offer them for free for a few days to get the word out.
I know that a mind map is a great tool, but I have never really invested the time to learn how to use it properly. Since this book is meant for kids, I thought that the author would do a very good job of explaining how to use mind maps. All the mind maps and worksheets are available for download for free, but you have to first sign-up at the author’s website. Although a large percentage of Part III of the book is not relevant to us, the book is worth reading.
Five Big Ideas
- We need to stop pushing information and provide opportunities for our [readers] to pull information that’s of interest to them.
- Under the right circumstances, any topic can be made interesting.
- Take control of your learning to become a self-directed learner.
- Reading for the sake of reading is inadequate. Readers must make meaning from reading for comprehension to take place.
- Before reading, if you’re reading to gather information, or to further your knowledge, write down the questions that you’d like to answer.
Mind Mapping for Kids by Toni Krasnic is meant to assist students to improve reading comprehension and critical thinking. The intent is to help students become better readers and learners. Since learning is a lifelong process, the intent is suited for adults as well.
“When the learner makes decisions about what concepts to highlight and how to connect them, he or she is demonstrating comprehension. In order to compose a visual map, comprehension must take place, something that cannot be said of traditional note taking. For students struggling with information and abstract ideas, the ability to transform information into visual maps is especially useful in helping them get a fuller picture of what they’re learning.”
When constructing a mind map, two things are critical:
- Identify/add key concepts.
- Organize/connect key concepts correctly and meaningfully.
In addition to discussing what mind maps are, and how to use them, Krasnic does the same for concept maps and explains the differences between the two visual maps. But much of his focus is on mind maps since that is the primary focus of Mind Mapping for Kids.
I was very happy to see that the author included a mind map of how professionals can use mind maps. He emphasized, which I’m in agreement with, that learning is a lifelong process.
9 Ways to Use Mind Maps
Krasnic surveyed students on how they used mind maps, then he revised and added information to include his findings in Mind Mapping for Kids, but what struck me is that the information is relevant to others as well.
- One-Place Repository of Information and Resources: The Pro version of mind mapping software allows you to attach documents, add images, link to sites, in addition to just taking notes. So this is a way for you to keep the resources you need for a project in one place. If you are looking for a digital notebook, and not the core functionalities of mind mapping, use Evernote (SummaReview of Work Smarter with Evernote by Alexandra Samuel and The Evernote Bible by Brandon Collins, a Book Review).
- Holistic Integration of Knowledge: Mind maps allow you to blend new information with what you already know, and you can also expand or collapse them.
- Personal Dashboard to Manage Tasks and Goals: You can use mind maps to plan and manage your day-to-day life.
- Note Taking, Research, and Writing: Keep all the information for a project in one place. Although Evernote is great for this, mind mapping allows you to visually see the info before you write your project report.
- Transparent Thinking: Allows you to get your thoughts on digital paper, so you can clearly see them. And this is a great way to not only clarify your thoughts, but share them with others.
- Improved Memory and Recall: Putting your thoughts on a mind map, as well as combining old and new information, help to cement information in your brain.
- Increased Creativity Through Free-Form, Non-Linear Thinking: Since mind maps are dynamic, they promote creativity because they’re free form and you are not forced to approach things in a linear way.
- Problem Solving, Decision Making, and Taking Action: Mind maps allow you to see how ideas and concepts relate to each other, which foster problem solving and decision making, which make it easier to take concrete action.
- Transform Rote Studying Into Self-Directed Learning: Mind maps force you to think about what you have learned so that you can capture it visually. This automatically eliminates rote learning, transforming it into self-directed learning. It’s an active way of learning.
8 Research-Based Reading Strategies
- Summarize: Identify the important ideas.
- Existing Knowledge: Rely on your exiting knowledge and previous experiences.
- Connect: Connect the new information to what you already know.
- Visualize: Picture what you are reading.
- Evaluate: Judge what you’re reading, does it make sense? Is it believable?
- Infer: What does the information mean? Dig deeper than the obvious.
- Synthesize: When you look at the complete picture, what insights can you glean?
- Question: Ask questions to understand your reading. And sometimes you read because you have questions. Keep those questions front and centre while you’re reading.
4 Concise Learning Methods
- Acquire key concepts.
- Meaningfully organize and connect key concepts in a visual map (mind map).
- Think critically.
- Ask key questions.
Krasnic combines the eight reading strategies, the four concise learning methods and mind maps to create the concise reading method. As you work your way through the reading strategies to increase your reading comprehension, be mindful that it’s not a standalone step. Create a mind map while you are reading or after you have completed your reading.
While you are creating your mind map, recognize that the eight reading strategies and the four learning methods feed into each other, and if you have done a good job in organizing your thoughts and understanding of each, the better your mind mapping, the more you’ll comprehend what you have read. Use the following to remember the eight reading strategies and four learning methods and how they relate to each other, and use as a basis for creating your mind map.
- Acquiring key concepts goes hand-in-hand with the summarize strategy.
- Organizing and connecting the information in a meaningful way is connected to the knowledge, connect, and visualize strategies.
- Critically thinking is related to evaluate, infer, and synthesize strategies.
- Asking questions feed into the question strategy.
To relate the mind map to life, Krasnic does an excellent job of attaching questions to each reading strategy to improve comprehension. For instance, when connecting what you’re reading to what you already know, two simple questions are “What do I already know about this topic?” and “What does this information remind me of?” The mere action of asking yourself questions, forces you to think about and process the information. In addition, the questions are intelligent ones that are worthy of answering.
The way to view mind mapping is an additional took in your toolkit that will assist you in becoming more productive. I recommend Mind Mapping for Kids: How Elementary School Students Can Use Mind Maps to Improve Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking by Toni Krasnic.
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