Using a Mind Map for Reading Comprehension

Reading_map.png
Overview of Don't You Dare Read This.

The use of Mind Maps in class is useful when working on all sorts of skills. For example,  students can use a Mind Map to quickly jot down the gist of an article they have read. Another great exercise is using Mind Maps to learn vocabulary. Mind Maps provide a visual learning mechanism that will help students recognize relationships they may miss in a more linear type of activity. The act of mapping something out encourages the individual to create an internal retelling of the story.

This type of approach will help students with essay writing skills, as well as better overall reading comprehension due to the 30,000 foot overview they will get. 

For this example lesson, I've provided a number of variations on the use of Mind Maps for exercises. The lesson itself could easily be extended into homework activities and over multiple classes depending on how much of the artistic element you encourage students to provide. For this lesson, I I created a simple map as an example for an upper level reading course using the novel Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Aim: Reading review and comprehension of extensive reading materials

Activity: Creating a Mind Map asking students to create an overview of a story

Level: Intermediate to advanced

Outline:

  • Introduce the concept of a Mind Map by showing students Mind Maps posted online. Just go to Google and search on "Mind Map" you'll find plenty of examples.
  • Ask students what type of things would lend themselves to Mind Mapping. Hopefully, students will come up with all sorts of creative uses. If not, I'd suggest pointing to simple examples such as vocabulary about the home, or job responsibilities. 
  • As a class, create a Mind Map of the story you are currently working on. In this example, I've posted an overview of one of my books this term.
  • Start with the main character. Ask students to identify the main areas of that character's life. In this case the class chose family, friends, work and school.
  • Ask students about the particulars of each category. Who are the people? What events happen? Where does the story take place? 
  • Once you've provided the basic outline, ask students to either draw the map on a piece of paper, or use Mind Mapping software (I recommend Free Mind, an open source program).
  • Ask students to fill in the Mind Map noting the relationships, main events, difficulties, etc. for each of the categories. 
  • How deep you ask students to go into the story depends on what is being reviewed. For analysis, it's probably best to keep things relatively simple. However, if you use this to review a chapter, individual character might run much deeper.
  • At this point in the exercise, you can ask students to review the reading in a variety of ways. Here are some suggestions:
    1. Use the map to discuss the relationships between the characters, places, etc. to partners. Each student can choose one arm of the map to discuss at length.
    2. Use the map as a written activity by asking students to write an accompanying explanatory text to the map.
    3. Ask students to really dig into the details by mapping out one or two arms of the map.
    4. Be artistic and provide sketches for their mind map.
    5. Speculate on the backgrounds of the relationships represented using modal verbs of probability.
    6. Focus in on grammar functions such as tenses by posing questions about the relationships in a variety of tenses. 
    7. Have students compare and contrast the maps they create.