Thursday, 12 March 2015

Essay planning and drafting with Mindmeister


Brainstorming or creating a mind map is a common process to help students develop ideas and to encourage ideation. In many classes, a brainstorm is used as the first planning step in a writing process which flows into drafting.

Online tools such as mindmaps can be a simple way to enhance the planning stage of student writing. When the tool is mutable ie. student can reorder, change and edit their thoughts on the go it should support deeper thinking and exploration of ideas. When doing a similar activity with paper, students are constrained by the size of their paper, frustrated when they need to erase or make a change and struggle to reorder the hierarchy of their thoughts. Whilst you can also plan in a word document and rearrange ideas, the visual element of a mindmap should be an important consideration.

Mindmeister is an online mind mapping tool that our student can use to develop an essay outline and then translate these notes into a text document. A clever export function allows students to export the structure and contents of their mindmap as headings and bullets in a word document. As shown below, this simple trick takes thier ideas into the an essay plan, helping them to draft potentially each paragraph and sentence.

Few tips:

  1. UWCSEA subscribes to Mindmeister and this is linked to each students GApps accounts.
  2. This can be accessed from the grid app icon at top of GMail/GDrive.
  3. Students can click share, to send a link to the teacher or class site / learning platform.
  4. They can also invite collaborators, but this slows the speed of the website down considerably.
  5. Small downwards arrow at bottom allows export function - MS Word translates document into headings, and sentences, but unselect all of the options to get a cleaner look with only text.
See video below for a full walkthrough.