Draft scenario 5

Using mind-map tools to plan a debating strategy on a specific topic, students work in groups and then they compete with each other in a debating contest.

A reminder of the guiding questions:

  • How would you actually do this in your classroom?
  • What would students actually do?
  • What other tools and resources would you use or suggest?
  • What would students be learning?
  • How would you evaluate and assess what they are learning?
  • What else would you do and/or who else would you involve?


Draft narrative overview (21 June 2012):  Mr K wants students to engage with a complex topic (soil science) while at the same time helping them familiarise with the English terminology widely used in the international scientific community. A trip to a site is arranged and students are divided in groups. They take samples, pictures, videos; some make drawings. Once back to the classroom, students work individually or in couples over a day or two (two lesson periods) on tasks pre-designed by the teacher: in each subgroup, two or more students will analyse the soil using a microscope, two or more will gather additional geographical or geo-chemical information about the site; two ore more will digitally edit the pictures or the videos overlaying their research notes and making a structured taxonomy of all the potentially relevant things that they observed.

Over another class period, a discussion supported by presentations takes place; the aim is to share findings and activities so that students complement each other’s findings without missing out. For example, in each subgroup those who used a microscope are asked to explain to the others what they did, how they did it and what they found, and so forth.

Over the next class period, intense brainstorming sessions in ENGLISH take place. Brainstorming is a critical component of creating a Mind Map, the groups are instructed to brainstorm as their first step. Small post-it notes are used at this stage because the groups can write ideas on the post-it notes and then shuffle them as many times as necessary to create effective categorizations. At this stage, students are required to develop their maps using scientific terminology in English. The teacher provides support with translation; the IWB provides access to the web and specific contents and resources in English.

The Mind Map exercise also allows a dyslexic student in the classroom to fully engage, as the approach helps him structure ideas concretely, while the graphical associations of the Mind Map make it easier for him to process the written text.The creation of Mind Maps in small groups instead of by individual students facilitates a deeper analysis of the topic through dialogue rather than instruction. Developing associations between terms and notions in English helps students understand and memorise words and concepts.

Finally, over a class period, students create digital version of their mind-maps using free web-based software like Popplet. All the findings, the pictures, the videos and the additional information are uploaded, scanned and, in the process, further discussed. New associations are found and this supports even further their understanding and the retention of the scientific terminology in English. 

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6 Responses to Draft scenario 5

  1. carlo says:

    What follows is a summary of the main suggestions and comments made by those who took part in the first Skype discussion on Monday 7th May 2012.

    This scenario is very interesting and easily applicable. It could benefit from several mapping tools already available on the web. MIndmaps are a powerful tool for learning already used for different purposes, for example in the context of language learning to develop a strategy in a debating context or exam.

  2. I have seen that through the use of web tools as popplet the students are more motivated in collaborative learning. To leave transmissive teaching for constructive teaching “the students use to learn”, this is very functional method.

  3. carlo says:

    Thank you very much Rosario for sharing your experience. In fact I have already studied your case study and the website you made with your students using popplet and we are currently using it as a source of inspiration for this scenario!

  4. Luciana Dell'Antonio says:

    The use of mental map built in class emphasizes the learning environment than the content transmitted by the teacher. So the students can participate in “emotionally” to their own learning path defining through interactivity and choice
    The work done in small groups and in specific contexts leads an active and experiential involvement, interactivity strengthens the power of defining hypotheses and choose the most relevant
    This type of activity highlights ways to act (seeking information, reflections on the path to be implemented), and paces of learning very different.

  5. Aydın says:


    Being agree with the general comments above, also the functionality of mindmaps from the point of classificaitons of visual data, url link or video classifications with embed codes, make it more strong tool, and a way to represent and interact in a better sense.

    The lines and points can be so colorfull in 3d by this tool.

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