Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thinking Maps: Guest Post!

Good morning everyone! Today I have my first guest post! I was so impressed when I read this. It is so thorough and informative!

Today’s guest post comes from Heather, she has been teaching 3rd grade for over 8 years and has a Masters Degree in Secondary and Professional Studies.  She is a regular contributor to Teacher Lingo and to The Mailbox Magazine as a freelance writer.  You can often find Heather writing for, where teachers can buy and sell their original lesson plans, worksheets, and more. 

Please give her some love with your comments! :)

Many of your students have heads full of creative ideas, but getting those ideas on paper in an organized manner is often a difficult task. At the beginning stages of the writing process, thinking maps can be an invaluable tool to help your students start their writing on the right track. Thinking maps can be used with virtually any writing prompt or task and may even determine the task by helping students determine the best way to present information.

How Can Thinking Maps Help Organize Your Students' Writing?

Choosing a Topic
One of the most difficult parts of the writing process for students comes before the actual writing begins – choosing a topic. Even when given a prompt or topic to write about, students must choose the angle to focus on or narrow down the topic to something that can be adequately discussed in a two or three-page paper. A simple thinking map may have a student brainstorm 10 possible topics or angles for a paper and then choose three of the topics from the list to expand on. From there, students can list subtopics or details that would be included in a paper about each topic and make the final topic choice.

Outlining a Paper

When a student is writing about a broad topic or is particularly enthusiastic about a topic, it is tempting to include every single piece of interesting information in a piece of writing. Using a thinking map to outline a piece of writing will help a student avoid including every fascinating fact or detail he finds and bring focus to a paper before it has started. The type of map used will depend on the length and purpose of a student’s paper. For example, when writing a persuasive paper, a student may list the main argument and three or four reasons to support that argument.  When writing a short story, the student may create a brief description of the story’s plot. Thinking maps may also be used to organize paragraphs individually rather than an entire paper.

Types of Thinking Maps

A variety of thinking maps can be used to help organize a student’s thoughts and outline writing. While some tasks may call for a specific thinking map or you may want students to use a certain thinking map for an assignment, the overall goal is to get students to use thinking maps on their own. After introducing students to the different types of thinking maps, they should be able to choose an appropriate thinking map for  a task.
The main types of thinking maps are circle maps, bubble maps, tree maps and flow maps. Both circle maps and bubble maps are best for helping students get ideas down on paper and narrowing down topics. Tree maps and flow maps are designed to help students organize their thoughts in a logical sequence, either by outlining paragraph topics or creating the sequence of a story or how-to piece.

Analyzing Writing

While thinking maps are traditionally used to help students organize their own writing, they can also be used to teach students about the components of quality pieces of writing. After reading a sample essay or short story, students can pull out information and details from a piece of writing to fill out a tree map or flow chart for that piece. The texts students use for this task do not have to be professional or perfect. In fact, having students use thinking maps to analyze texts with organizational problems will help them understand what a disorganized text looks and sounds like, making it easier to avoid the problem in their own papers.

Thank you Heather and for contacting me about this fabulous guest post! You all should definitely visit this site! There are so many resources for teachers. 


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