In my graduate classes, we are reading about theories of development and discussing their implications for the classroom. We usually start each class with a round table discussion and then do an activity that is a practical application of that theory. Tonight’s topic was Piaget. While reviewing the reading, I felt that the information was a bit dense and that my students might be feeling overwhelmed with all the concepts. I took a poll in class and my students confirmed my suspicions. To clear up some of the confusion about the terminology, I showed a few short video clips of Piaget’s methods for determining conservation, classification, object permanence, and ego-centrism. Then, I had the students work in groups to help them sort out the complicated concepts, through the creation of MindMaps.
It was interesting to watch the groups work. Some students went right for the markers, while others pulled out the book to read and determine what they wanted to include in their MindMap. Some groups had geometric shapes and others were more rounded and free-flowing. In some groups, one person did all the drawing and in others they took turns. They all discussed the theory in terms of representative visuals, something they found to be helpful in understanding the facets of the theory. Some comments I heard during the activity:
“We need more color.”
“What picture should we use to show…”
“This really does help me to sort all the information and understand it better.”
“I like that we get to do activities that we can use in our own classrooms that apply to the theories.”
I have done MindMaps in both my high school and graduate classes. I have used both computer mindmapping software and poster paper. I personally like the paper versions because I think my students take ownership of their original drawings. I highly recommend the use of MindMaps with all ages.