By S Baker-Perkins
If I asked you to think of a horse, what would you imagine? A brown horse? Black? Anyone have a ‘My Little Pony’ moment or think of a pink unicorn?
I’m fairly sure no-one thought of the actual word ‘HORSE’. This is because we think in images and colours, which stimulate our memories. We then associate sounds and feelings with said images such as the sound of hooves on the ground. Even smells are triggered such as riding a horse on the beach, with the smell of the sea and the wind in your hair… sorry, I got a bit carried away. However, you see my point.
Mind maps are an extension of a bog standard concept map by using images, words and colours to trigger memory and are a great way to revise. They stimulate the areas of our brain that recognise and associate image, colour with memory, ensuring that you are able to recall information. Information we learn at school generally enters our brain through our eyes and ears and it is deposited into our sensory memory. But we can pay attention only to a small amount of information. Once something has attracted our attention, it moves into our working memory. The brain notices and remembers colour and images first!
The trick to creating mind maps is to combine colour, images and words to effectively recall information. The best thing about it is that you don’t need awesome drawing skills; the wackier the better. If the drawing you create is funny, you will remember it. It works with all students, and all learning styles.
The mind map can take on many different guises. I have created an example of a mind map using the exam topic Game Shows. The students have to remember specific case studies of game shows and it can be tricky to remember all the different aspects such as the format or style. The example mind map I created incorporates all the key words, ridiculously badly drawn pictures (my drawing skills haven’t really developed since I was six years old) and colours that mean something to me. I will be using mind maps with my current year 11’s and they will be able to use the mind maps to do all sorts of revision. For example, they can take just one key idea, presenters, and use the mind map to compare their different case study shows’ presenters and the specific genre and/or audience.
I used this method with my year 11 class last year and their feedback was that it’s a great tool; they remembered their mind maps more than any of their other revision methods.
Try it…you might like it!
Step by step guide to creating a good mind map.
Step 1: Create a central idea
The central idea is the starting point of your mind map and embodies the subject you are going to explore. Your central idea should be in the centre of your page and should include an image that represents the A-mind map theme. This draws attention and activates associations, as our brains respond better to visual stimuli. Personalise your central idea. Putting in the time and effort will reinforce the link you have with the subject matter in your A-mind map.
Step 2: Add branches to your map (colour code them)
The next step is to add branches. The main branches are the key themes. Adding smaller branches helps to delve into each subject or main branch in greater complexity and depth. The beauty of the mind map is that you can repeatedly add new branches and you’re not restricted to just a few options. Remember, the structure of your mind map will come naturally as you add more ideas and your brain freely draws new associations from the different concepts. The important thing is that you make sure it is colourful. The more time you take, the better.
Step 3: Add Keywords and images to represent your keyword (colour code them)
When you add a branch to your Mind Map, you will need to include a key idea. An important principle of mind mapping is using one word per branch. Keeping to one word sparks off a greater number of associations compared to using multiple words or phrases. The word should be on the line, not at the end. The most helpful part of this is to add a picture. The picture may be completely abstract and bizarre to anyone else but that really doesn’t matter. The point is to make it personal to you.