Mind Maps: mind blowing or mind numbing?

One of the things we had to do for class was to create a mind map as a graphic organizer.  Since I have only really created flow charts and outlines previously, I was excited to try creating my very first graphic organizer. Our assignment was to use a new-to-me way to create our mind maps. At first I tried to create one using Exploratree. From looking at the options, I figured that it would work really well for me and could be very helpful in the future. After trying to create a mind map, however, I was wrong. The auto format was a bear for me to use and I could not keep my map from keeping normal text or staying viewable.

As an alternative, I decided to try using SmartArt in good ol’ fashioned Microsoft Word. Technically, I had not tried to use it, as any flowcharts or outlines I had made previously were ones that I had specially built using shapes, lines, and arrows, so I was very hopeful that this would be easy peasy. It wasn’t. I had the same exact problem with SmartArt that I did with Exploratree. I kept wanting to make additional levels of text, which made the bubbles smaller and the text unreadable. I will admit my frustration with the programs, but I will admit that in using them I was unaware of how detailed I could (or couldn’t) get. Finally, I decided to simplify the bubble and make something that outlined the two lessons I was working on. Here’s what I finally came up with:

Mind Map 1

Using these two programs and having the same difficulty with each brought me to the conclusion that clearly I am not adept at this and need much more practice. I can definitely see the utility in making these other graphic organizers for my students, and so I will continue to try using these when I can and hopefully one day I will get the hang of how much information I can put in before it starts to get wonky. I think that either SmartArt or Exploratree are both good starting points for those who have not had to create graphic organizers previously and even though I had trouble with them, I would still recommend using them.

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