If mindmapping really helps you and/or your students to explore, clarify and organise your thinking, then you might be interested in trying out a programme called XMind. It’s free to download the basic version, with of course an option to buy upgrades to XMind Plus or XMind Pro. The video clip below outlines what it does. Click here to find out more and to download the software. Is it better than a pen and paper? Well, I guess that depends …
This activity, which can be used to create a real buzz in the classroom, is actually one of the “Leading in Learning” ideas we originally looked at some time ago. It has since been used to good effect in some departments, and may well be worth revisiting in others.
Pupils work in small teams to recreate a piece of stimulus material such as a map, picture, diagram, photograph, advert, poem, sheet of music or other suitable item. This can only be seen in a certain part of the teaching area. Each team sends one member up to look at it for 10 seconds. They then return to their groups and start to produce a copy of the original, explaining to the rest of their group what they have seen. After a set period of time (30 seconds works well), the next group member should go up to look at the image. This person will then add further details to the group’s copy. As the group members each become more familiar with what they are trying to recreate, they should start to reflect on how their version is progressing and to plan future visits accordingly. After a few turns each, the pupils are asked to compare their versions with the original, or with each others.
What have the students got out of all this?
- They have practised observing something closely.
- They have had to hold details in their minds and should remember them better as a result.
- They have practised describing and explaining the material.
- They have practised reflecting on their progress.
- They have practised planning ahead.
- They have developed their group-work skills.
Are your pupils struggling to produce essays with clear arguments supported by suitable evidence? It might be worth getting them to try using the “Essay Map” website. No sign up required. Check out this link.
When we train youngsters to plan and navigate their own routes for the Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition, we encourage them to keep coming back to these four key questions:
1. Where am I starting from?
2. Where do I want to get to?
3. How do I plan to get there?
4. How will I check I’m on the right route?
The image above [click on it to enlarge] takes this approach and applies it to lesson planning. Read more on our Progression page.