Organisers for Thinking

This week I’ve been thinking about digital tools to use to help organise my students’ thinking, which has been an interesting topic. A lot of students, when asked to plan or brainstorm, still like using pen and paper. I know I tend to write myself little notes, or plan out things, using bits of paper and post-it notes (the more colourful the better!) but this is often a temporary and messy solution. While it’s a good first step, you then need to either take a photo of your thoughts with your device or transfer them to another digital place for safe-keeping. Ideally anyway – you should see my desk…

To quickly share ideas I quite like using Padlet or SMART Technology’s Shout It Out feature on my Smartboard. They’re a great way to hear from all students, and they last longer than sticky notes! They don’t always work reliably but they have proved useful tools. 

For individual brainstorming, I’ve recently discovered MindNode which is a very handy app for mind-mapping. I like the colour coding and the fact that you can add images, which has been really useful for the more visual art and architecture topics in Classics. Here is a brainstorm I made about what I’ve learned from 23 Teaching Things:

I’ve also been experimenting with sketch noting as a way of making sense of content.  Having a blank canvas really forces you to make your own connections, and using colour and illustrations is a good way to get different parts of the brain firing. I’ve also found it a good way to maintain focus during meeting and lectures, rather than getting distracted by emails and other notifications. It’s something I’d like to play around with next year in my classes as I think it will really help some students. I’m also keen to see what they can do, as it’s surely better than my efforts! See example below…

Have you used sketchnoting with your students? What is the best way to help them benefit from thinking more visually?


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