Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Helping Your Child Organize Their Thoughts

If you've been reading my blog or attended any of my teleclasses, you know I like to use a mind map. A mind map is a tool that helps get your thoughts out of your head on to paper, it's brainstorming really. I use a mind map when I am working on a project, an article, a new talk or teleclass, or just trying to work through a problem.

I remember learning this in junior high school to help with my writing assignments. It was referred to as a mind web. I even showed my daughter last summer but I didn't go into detail. One of those things I added to my list, "I really should take the time to....".

Last week I stopped into school at the end of the day and sat in on my daughter's first grade Language Arts class. (Stopping into school is also one those things I really should take the time to do more). Her teacher was having the class start a new writing assignment. And to my great excitement, she had them start with a mind web!

I have to get off track here for a bit and tell you why I LOVE my daughter's teacher.
  1. She is great with the kids-caring but has expectations.

  2. She's organized!

  3. She takes the time to answer my questions and communicates what's going on in the classroom.
  4. She draws cats on my daughter's papers because she knows that's what excites her.

  5. She's really organized!

  6. She lets the kids go to the bathroom when they need to. Why don't more teachers do this?
  7. She challenges the kids at their individual levels.

  8. And, finally, she's organized! She's also really sweet.

Back to the mind web. So I'm totally into this class now and I look over at my daughter, who also is obviously into it, too because she is sitting on the edge of her seat, with her pencil in her mouth (of course), smiling. It hits me because it's the end of the day-they just came in from last recess-she really does love school (I did not like elementary school!).

The children were asked to write about someone they really love or care about - think Valentine's Day. This is how her teacher had the kids use a mind web for their writing project:

  1. Draw a circle in the middle of the paper and write the name of the person you want to write about.
  2. Then draw four lines out from the center circle. These will be four reasons why you love that person.
  3. Then, write two details for each of the four reasons.

So for example, my daughter wrote about her Grammy (that's my mom).

"I love my Grammy because she played games with me like tag and hide-and-go seek. I also love her because she read books to me, like I Love You When and the Bible.

Doing a simple mind web helped the children brainstorm and organize their thoughts. It helps them break writing down into individual steps. I love that! What a life-long skill.


Barb said...

This is a great idea!

Helene said...

Paula, this is awesome!!! It definitely seems to make writing projects simpler!! I'm glad your daughter is enjoying school so much! Having a wonderful teacher makes all the difference in the world!

Kate said...

Oh, she sounds like a sweet little girl! And as a writing major in college, let me tell ya, those mind webs worked wonders. I was introduced to them in high school by the greatest teacher I've ever had! I haven't used a mind web in years though, you totally reminded me that I used to use them.

Creative Junkie said...

both of my kids' teachers did this through elementary school!

It really is a great tool.

(and I just rhymed. Go me!)

Arlice Nichole said...

The mind map was VERY effective. I agree, elementary sucked at times.

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