The Power of Doodling!! (a.k.a. The Power of Mind Mapping)

Economics in Picture Form

Sometimes, taking notes becomes boring and monotonous.  So what do I like to do?  I like creating “Mind Maps”…putting what I know/have learned about a topic on paper in a way that makes sense to me!!

Back in high school, I would take notes off an overhead projector or chalkboard (yes, I went to high school in the days of these “archaic” teaching tools), and find myself getting bored half out of my mind (I was one of those students who needed constant challenge and activity to keep my interest…in 7th grade, I remember reading books about Marie Curie and Thomas Edison under my desk while my teacher would lecture about what defines a culture).  So I began to doodle new smiley face characters (always in twos) with funny and interesting comments about a topic to stay engaged and to make my understanding of the concepts deeper (was what made Geometry such a fascinating topic for me).

When I began teaching, I decided that since some high schoolers like me love to doodle anyway, I should try to harness the power of doodling to add to the educational experience for those who enjoy drawing.  I took an idea I had learned about in graduate school, MIND MAPS, and add doodling to it.

Defining the Term: MIND MAP
A diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.
(Definition taken from Wikipedia.com)
This is a tool that really works well with students who are artistically inclined.  I’ve had a lot of success using this method when some of my gifted students seemed to have a hard time deciphering what was important and not important to write down off PowerPoint lecture presentations.  After writing pages and pages of notes, I told them to narrow down the notes around one basic concept (i.e. “Causes of the Great Depression”, “Demand & Supply”, etc) and create a Mind Map with either words or pictures…whichever worked best for them.  A lot of students would just use words, several would create collages with pictures they find online, and some would actually draw them.  
This became an effective tool not only to help students learn to organize the notes they copy off the board/PowerPoint, but also as an assessment tool to see if they really do understand the concept properly.  A teacher can collect them, assess them (without grading…after all, the mind map simply needs to make sense to the student who created it), and perhaps use it to pick out those who seem to be struggling with the concept (if unsure whether they are struggling or not, a teacher can simply ask the student privately aspects of it that seems unclear).
For more information on Mind Maps, you can visit some of the following websites:

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