Bright, independent, critical thinkers. Of course, that’s what every teacher wants to have filling their classrooms. As it turns out, there are strategic ways that we can use technologies to encourage the development of these thoughtful learners.
According to David Jonassen (2006), Mindtools allow students to create models of their cognitive connections. In Meaningful Learning with Technology, Jonassen and others elaborate on the Mindtool concept, stating, “When using computers as Mindtools to model phenomena, students are teaching the computer, rather than the computer teaching the student… learning with Mindtools requires learners to think harder about the subject-matter” (p. 193). As a Mindtool, concept maps specifically provoke, and then aid in modeling, the cognitive connections that students are making. Used effectively, concept maps provide an adaptive framework for students to use to identify and model connections and relationships between knowledge and ideas.
In the interesting TED Talk, How Brain Science Will Change Computing, Jeff Hawkins (starting around minute 10) talks about intelligence as the ability to recognize patterns and connections, then using that recognition to make predictions about novel situations. In my experience, I have seen that concept maps help develop such intelligence by giving our students frameworks for developing and organizing their thought patterns.
Want an easy way to give this a try? Bubbl.us allows students to have a free account where they can create and save up to 3 concept maps at any given time. The application is incredibly easy and intuitive to use.
Plus, it gets better! Bubbl allows students to work collaboratively on the same concept map (sheet). Students can “share” their concept maps with the other students to cooperatively work on brainstorming and research activities, provoking the type of reflective and deliberative thinking perfect for meeting Common Core standards!
Here are a few ideas for getting started!
- Collect research with source links on a social studies topic.
- Brainstorm ideas for writing a narrative story.
- Analyze a text and organize observations.
- Model the relationships between key concepts/vocabulary in a science unit.
- Identify the cause and effect relationships of various variables on a public policy.
- Compare and contrast the styles of a set of artists or authors.
And if you are a current Bubbl user or you decide to give it a try, I would love for you to share your ideas, success stories, or an example in the comments below! Happy mapping!