Aug 012013

What are Graphic Organizers and Mind Mapping?

Mind Mapping and Graphic Organizers are two ways for visually representing ideas. When your child is trying to organize ideas for a writing assignment or project, using one of these tools can help him figure out what he wants to say.

Mind Mapping software provides visual layouts and connections by allowing users to enter ideas and move them around. When ideas have been entered, users can then drag-and-drop to organize their ideas and to create connections between related ideas.

Graphic Organizers come in all kinds of graphical representations and a visual learner can copy blank graphic organizer pages to lay out several ideas. While software is easier to modify, graphic organizers come in a lot of creative representations, like animals, vehicles, or any other kind of object, which children often find more entertaining to work with.  If a child has executive functioning issues, the graphic organizers are less dynamic than mind mapping software, but they do similarly help a child organize his ideas.

Visual learners find graphic organizers and mind mapping very helpful for laying out their thoughts on paper or on a computer screen. The software will let users put their ideas in boxes, then move the boxes around to create a logical flow, so they are easier to modify than a graphic organizer on paper.

Children with Executive Function Disorder find the mind mapping software particularly useful since they tend to have difficulty with organizing, sequencing, and planning.  The mind mapping software lets your child enter all of his ideas in a free-flow manner, then he can organize the ideas into logical sequences for planning purposes.

Different Types of Mind Mapping Software

Inspiration Mind Mapping Software and Kidspiration Mind Mapping Software are probably the two most well-known mind mapping programs.  Both of these are very popular programs which have been around for many years.   Both Inspiration and Kidspiration are available as apps for iPad Tablets as well, but you have to buy the Apps through the iTunes Store.  “Kidspiration lets students show and explore ideas and relationships, organize information, and build critical thinking skills with graphic organizers including webs, concept maps and Venn diagrams.”  The mind mapping software is most useful for organizing written documents, programming projects, posters before they’re put on poster board, and for creating any project that requires organization of ideas.  Personally, I like mind mapping for re-arranging my book chapters and sections as I’m writing.

**C-MapTools rivals the hugely popular Inspiration and Kidspiration programs, but C-MapTools is free mind mapping software. The features of this program are very similar to other programs. The C-MapTools program lets users construct, navigate, and share concept maps. It allows users to, among many other features, construct their Cmaps in their personal computer, share them on CmapServers anywhere on the Internet, link their Cmaps to other Cmaps on servers.  As far as free mind mapping software goes, C-MapTools is a good solution, but it is more appropriate for high school or college students to use.  Personally, I find their mind-mapped website on the confusing side since the sections aren’t descriptive enough for my personal taste.

You can find these programs, and other Mindmapping Software on Amazon, which is one of the largest academic software providers.

More About Graphic Organizers

Graphic Organizersgraphic organizers use a wide variety of visual representations of ideas as ways of organizing thoughts for writing, for organizing project processes, and for connecting concepts in a learning unit. Graphic organizers are great for kids who learn better when ideas are connected.

If your child’s neuropsychological evaluation shows that he benefits from “narratives” or has a strong story memory, then connecting ideas with graphic organizers may help your child retain information or better organize his ideas for writing. We used a lot of Graphic Organizers because my sons are visual learners.  My oldest son is highly visual, so he loved graphic organizers for organizing his compositions.

I highly recommend using graphic organizers for your child’s benefit if he’s a visual learner. You can find a lot of great Graphic Organizers on Amazon, and almost all of them are copyable blackline masters that you can use repeatedly. If your child is like mine, he’ll find a few that he loves and want to use those same ones over and over again. It’s great when your child’s organized ideas begin to flow naturally without the use of actual graphic organizers.