Back to Basics: Mind Mapping

Welcome to our Back to Basics series! In this series we explore some of the foundational methods, practices and terminology for teaching reading — and writing! This series is for those new to the field of literacy, beginning tutors or those who would just like a refresher. Reading and writing go hand in hand, so this week we will begin exploring writing topics. Today we start with mind mapping.

Mind mapping is a pre-writing activity used to organize thoughts and generate ideas. We introduced mind maps when we discussed pre-reading activities. However, they’re also a great tool for adult learners with the goal of improving their writing.

“Often, learners think about the mechanics of writing. The ideas they express are equally important.” – Adult Literacy Program: Virtual Tutor Training

How to Create a Mind Map

Mind maps are a non-linear and creative way to get the ideas flowing. Creating a mind map takes three main steps:

  1. Start with a topic (main idea). Write it down in the middle of the page. Discuss the topic.
  2. Write down ideas and details as they branch off the topic. Use visuals, colours, words and lines to link to the central topic.
  3. Group ideas that are similar. Branch off from the secondary ideas for less important concepts.

It’s a good idea for the learner to chose the topic because this accesses prior knowledge and may create more enthusiasm for the task. Start out by creating a mind map with your learner. As the mind map is created, the learner can relate different aspects of the topic as their mind makes associations. As the learner becomes more comfortable, guide them towards creating their own mind map. Complete the lesson by explaining how the diagram can be used to guide their writing.

Check out the resources below for more information about and ideas for effective mind mapping.


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