Friday, December 16, 2011

Mind Maps - Why have I never heard of these?

A fellow 7th grade teacher at another middle school emailed me the idea of using a mind map as tool to reflect on the 1st investigation in Comparing and Scaling (CMP).  I wasn't sure of what a "mind map" was so I googled images to get an idea of how to instruct my students on how to make the map.

I realized a mind map was just another way to take notes.  The map allows you to organize your ideas around a central idea and find relationships among all the details/branches.  Instead of creating a handout like this:
 How to Make a Mind Map (website)
1. Take a blank piece of paper, A4 or larger. Blank paper allows 360ยบ of freedom to express the full range of your cortical skills, whereas pre-drawn lines restrict the natural flow of your thoughts.
2. Use the paper in landscape orientation. Words and images have more space in the direction we write, so they don’t bump into margins as quickly.
3. Start in the centre. Thoughts start in the centre of our mental world. The Mind Map page reflects this!
4. Make a central image that represents the topic about which you are writing/thinking:
  • Use at least three colours.
  • Keep the height and width of the central image to approx. 2’’ or 5 cm (proportionately larger for bigger paper).
  • Allow the image to create its own shape (do not use a frame).
A picture is worth a thousand words. It opens up associations, focuses the thoughts, is
fun and results in better recall:

  • Colours stimulate the right cortical activity of imagination as well as capturing and holding attention.
  • This size gives plenty of space for the rest of your Mind Map, while making it large enough to be the clear focus of the topic.
  • The unique shape makes it more memorable and enjoyable. A frame makes the centre a monotony of shape and disconnects the branches.
5. The main themes around the central image are like the chapter headings of a book:
  • Print this word in CAPITALS or draw an image.
  • Place on a line of the same length
  • The central lines are thick, curved and organic i.e. like your arm joining your body, or the branch of a tree to the trunk.
The branch of a Mind Map
  • Connect directly to the central image.
The main themes, connected to the central image on the main branches, allow their relative importance to be seen. These are the Basic Ordering Ideas (BOIs) and aggregate and focus the rest of the Mind Map:
  • Printing (versus cursive) allows the brain to photograph the image thus giving easier reading and more immediate recall.
  • Word length equals line length. An extra line disconnects thoughts, length accentuates the connection.
  • Curved lines give visual rhythm and variety and so are easier to remember, more pleasant to draw and less boring to look at. Thicker central lines show relative importance.
  • Connected to the image because the brain works by association not separated, disconnected lines.
6. Start to add a second level of thought. These words or images are linked to the main branch that triggered them. Remember:
  • Connecting lines are thinner.
  • Words are still printed but may be lower case.
Your initial words and images stimulate associations. Attach whatever word or image is triggered. Allow the random movement of your thought; you do not have to ‘finish’ one branch before moving on:
  • Connected lines create relationships and a structure. They also demonstrate the level of importance, as from a branch to a twig.
  • The size and style of the letters provide additional data about the importance and meaning of the word/image.
7. Add a third or fourth level of data as thoughts come to you:
  • Use images as much as you can, instead of, or in addition to the words.
  • Allow your thoughts to come freely, meaning you ‘jump about’ the Mind Map as the links and associations occur to you.
Your brain is like a multi-handed thought-ball catcher. The Mind Map allows you to catch and keep whatever ‘thought ball’ is thrown by your brain.
8. Add a new dimension to your Mind Map. Boxes add depth around the word or image. To make some important points stand out.
9. Sometimes enclose branches of a Mind Map with outlines in colour:
  • Enclose the shape of the branch and hug the shape tightly.
  • Use different colours and styles.
The outlines will create unique shapes as you find in clouds and will aid your memory:
  • These provide immediate visual linking. They can also encourage follow-up and remind you of action you need to take.
  • They can also show connection between branches by using the same colour outline.
10. Make each Mind Map a little more:
Your eyes and brain will be attracted to your Mind Map:
  • It will be easier to remember.
  • It will be more attractive to you
    (and to others as well).
11. Have fun!

Add a little humour, exaggeration or absurdity wherever you can.
Your brain will delight in getting the maximum use and enjoyment from this process and will therefore learn faster, recall more effectively and think more clearly.
Click HERE to see the site for further information 

Instead - organize your ideas like this! (image from same website above) 

I thought the idea was so cool and decided to try the mind map in class.  The central idea was "compare".  I gave the students the four branches for compare - ratio, fraction, percent, and difference.  Because this was the first map and they weren't sure what they were doing giving the branches were appropriate.  In the future I would like for them to come up with the branches on their own.  

Check out these BEAUTIES! 

 Here are some Maps done in groups (we did it first in groups of four)

These were the only two maps that were successfully completed in 30 minutes.  I heard a lot of whining that day about how the map was "too hard". 

I started the 2nd investigation in the book and was still interested in doing a mind map again.  The investigation was all about determining if students were using a "part to part" or "part to whole" comparison.  Since they gained more experience with the ratio and fraction branches I figured it would be a good idea to try it again but this time individually.  Students drew these maps in their notebooks and I told them they would have a chance to add more details as we worked through the rest of the book.

Some students took "branches" literally and drew their map as a tree.

I really like this idea to help students organize and value the ideas that they have developed throughout the year.  I really hope to find more concepts that can be "mapped" out so I can do this more often!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Group Work Wednesday: Group Names

I have always used Popsicle sticks when I wanted to randomly call on a student.  I love the sticks because it helps keep students engaged when we are discussing problems as a whole group or small groups. 
 The tins are from Target - love the dollar bins!

When I started focusing on improving group work I realized I needed my groups to feel more like a team.  I figured if my groups felt more like teams, they be would more supportive of each other and focus on the greater good of the group rather than themselves.  One day I passed out a survey to students to see if they could come with good math related names. 

Although I got some very "interesting" names I decided to go with the vocabulary words students were pulling straight from the glossary of their textbook.  The other questions asked will be elaborated on in other posts :).

Once I had my names I made signs to hang from the ceiling. I had seen other teachers' classrooms who had used foam sheets to hang vocabulary words and decided to do the same.

I am CRAZY about my letters so of course I had to use stencils to make sure each letter was perfect.
After all of my letters were cut out I used my glue gun (one of my favorite inventions) to glue the letters together.  I punched a hole in the top letter and hung the names by fishing/clear wire.

The Coordinates

The Patterns
The Equations
The Variables

The Exponents
The Functions
The Integers

I love my signs! I love being able to call "the integers" to explain a problem or compliment "the variables" on how well they worked together.  Because my Popsicle sticks only call individuals I also created Popsicle sticks for my groups. 
These sticks also help me dismiss students by tables when the bell rings.  I use to pull students names and everyone at their table would be dismissed.  That worked until the same table was being called over and over again. 

Although my room may look more "elementary" or cute to other teachers with the hanging words, I personally think the group names just keep my days running just a little more smoothly. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Covered in paint and mog pog

When I started my blog my goal was to post at least twice a week.  I think that lasted about two weeks.  I slowed down to once a week for a few weeks and to dare I say it- I have not posted for two weeks! 

I have good reasons... My blog was neglected for the first week because I was in sunny Florida for Thanksgiving!  Nothing better than relaxing in the sun for 5 days and spending time with my wonderful family.  

I was even lucky enough to see the NASA's rocket take off to Mars!
Beautiful day to see the launch!

Needless to say it has been rough getting back into the swing of things this week.  I had planned to blog about group names/signs but I have been distracted with a non school related project.  One of my best friends is getting married on New Years and has trusted me to make her center pieces!  After many nights searching Pinterest we decided on a few different designs. 

One of my favorites of our choices...
Thank goodness Cleverlyinspired provided a wonderful tutorial to make the bottles. 

I put the word out that I was collecting bottles and within a couple of weeks I have received 32 bottles!   I received a large box of bottles after Thanksgiving which motivated me to get started on my centerpieces.  I have been working on these for a couple of days and decided to give a sneak peek on my progress (this is for you Ash). 

After taking off all the labels off the bottles (what a pain)- I finally started to prime the bottles. 
After the first four bottles I finally learned to only paint half and let them dry so I didn't get paint all over my hands.  

I still have about 18 more to do.

 I salted the top half of the bottle (yes it is bigger than all the other bottles).  This bottle is AWESOME and I plan to put the newlyweds' initials on it.  

This is a ball jar covered in Epsom salt. 

Six jars took an entire bottle of Mog Pog.  I still have one more coat (mog pog/salt) to do.  If I don't figure out a way to cut down on the glue this is going to become an expensive project.  

My hands have been covered in glue (mog pog) and paint for the past three days.  
I don't mind one bit :)

I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek! I will post the final products after the wedding!