Playtime with a new tool!

My favourite time of the school day….playtime!

In my previous blog post, I talked about how as teachers, we cannot be afraid of new technologies or tools, and that the best way to learn is to take the time to play. Well, it’s also important to practice what we preach. My school division is in the middle of a pilot project to incorporate MindMeister into our classrooms. Upon receiving the email in my inbox looking for teachers to pilot the mind-mapping tool, I instantly jumped on the opportunity! While I have used other mind-mapping tools that were good, they now feel limited in their capabilities. Students could only create mind maps at school, they can’t work on them at home even if they save it on their jump sticks because they don’t have the software at home and they are not collaborative. This is where MindMeister comes in! It offers students an opportunity to access their mind maps from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection, as well, they can share their maps digitally with others in order to collaborate and create the maps together in real-time.

Today was my students’ first opportunity to try out MindMeister, and to say it was a success would be an understatement! All I wanted them to do way play; discover how to create nodes, move the nodes around, change themes, change font size/colour. They all had it figured out in about 15 minutes flat!

So, on the fly, I asked them to create a personal mind map about the concept of rights and responsibilities, which is part of our current Unit of Inquiry, How We Organize Ourselves. This involved them creating nodes to talk about what our rights are as Canadian citizens, and then adding sub-nodes to list the responsibilities that we have that go along with those rights. Even my most reluctant writers were flying! Since they are just being introduced to the concept of rights and responsibilities, this initial creation was moreso to see what their prior knowledge on the topic was. The beautiful thing about it (and that I discussed with the students) is that it is now a working document, and as we move through the Unit as they discover more about rights and responsibilities, they can add to or modify their mind-map. A neat feature on MindMeister is the “History View”. This offers an animated timeline view of the creation of the map and how it changes. It even logs the different dates that items are removed/added. It’s a great way for the students to see how their mind map will grow and change in unison with their knowledge and understanding.

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Playtime in action

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What an 8 year old is capable of with a little playtime

I cannot wait to see what these maps look like once we integrate the collaboration piece of MindMeister! And what a great opportunity for my students to reflect back on their work at the end of the unit to watch their knowledge grow right before their eyes!

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