Sunday, 24 January 2016

Let's Map It Out

By Nicoguaro - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

This is my "moderator post" for Week 3 in eTextbook Teachers (#ebookevo). This is where I will offer some advice and support. I will try to be useful, I know you have a lot of work to do. Week 3 is going to be the week in which you map out your ebook chapter and make a final choice of the publishing option for your ebook.

I will focus on mind mapping here, simply because I already wrote a blog post about publishing last year.  Feel free to read that too, even though most of what I wrote about there refers to Week 4.

And, if you are wondering which publishing option I will choose, it will be FLIPHTML5. I used it last year and I was happy with the result. It looks like a digital book and you can embed videos, links and images. There is also the option of enabling PDF download, which is perfect if the students want to print your book or read it offline. FLIPHTML5 can be used online, or downloaded to your computer. And it is free.

So, mind mapping. Why should you do it? I can think of three reasons:

1. Mind mapping will help you think and brainstorm. I literally brainstormed my ebook chapter into my mind map this year. I started with two separate ideas. Idea 1 was that I wanted this chapter to be about learning vocabulary. I wanted my upper-intermediate students to learn some new vocabulary and I wanted them to become more effective vocabulary learners. Idea 2 was that I wanted to use a poem and create some activities connected to it. This second idea came to me thanks to one of the #ebookevo participants, Mary Hillis, who suggested it to me in the first week of our workshop. The poem is called When I Am Old, I Shall Wear Purple. So how do I connect a poem about old age and learning vocabulary? Here's what I came up with:

2. The second reason is that mapping it out will help you organise yourself better once you start writing your chapter, by providing a visual reminder about what your chapter should contain. Of course it is not final, you can keep adding to it. And, by creating it, you are not committing yourself to everything that you have included. You are still in the brainstorming stage and you are allowed to change your mind.

3. Last but not least, a mind map is a beautiful visual. You can use it at the beginning of your chapter to let your students know what it is going to be about. You can use it at the end of the chapter to remind them what they have learnt, or as a benchmark. You can even invite them to add their own comments and visuals to the map.

There are many mind mapping tools and they are mostly easy to use. It all depends on your preferences and the device you are using. If you want to create it on your phone, you will want a phone app. I have used my Windows tablet and Nova Mind was my app of choice. It is relatively easy to use and the Lite (free) version is quite decent. You can save the map in a variety of formats and they even provide a free cloud for your maps. Here's what mine looks like online, in the cloud. And here's the one I created for my last year's chapter.

I would love to hear about other ways you use mind mapping in TEFL, as well as your experience with other mind mapping tools you have tried. Please post the comments here in the blog, or in our Google+ group.


Janet Bianchini said...

Dear Natasa

Thanks for this very informative blog post! I agree mind maps are a very practical way of organizing ideas and thoughts in a structured way. I have often used for creating nice, simple and colourful mind maps. The free version allows you 3 mind maps that you can save and download to your computer, then I delete them from the site and start again with the 3 you are given, so this works out fine! I have experimented with Popplet, as well, and it allows you to add multi media, and that is really useful!

You are doing a great job moderating on the evo ebook session, and it's a pleasure to be a co-moderator with you and our incredible team!



English Language Teacher said...

Thanks for the great post! I saw it this morning and I could not reply as I was working at school.

I am interested in mind maps too as more and more I do need to use them with my students and especially the dyslexic ones.

Natasa said...

Thank you both for your comments. Janet, I love the three-map trick. I am not sure I would have thought of that. And yes, I agree that mind mapping is great for dyslexic students.


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