Not everyone learns traditionally, particularly not LD students, and this includes writing an essay or paper for school.

For students who are more visual learners or have trouble working with words, mind mapping, also known as concept mapping, offers an alternative way to structure information.

A mind map is a visual representation or diagram of ideas. It’s a creative way to organize ideas and make connections between thoughts and concepts.

The Benefits of Mind Mapping

Non-traditional learners may benefit from the use of mind maps. Research conducted by Dr. Roger Sperry encouraged the concept of mind maps. In his research, Sperry identified that the brain was broken down into multiple areas and the more areas used, the stronger the learning. The mind mapping process takes advantage of the whole brain learning process and helps students make the most use of their brains. Unlike a traditional writing or organizing task which limits students to words and a particular structure, a mind map allows students to represent thoughts in multiple ways and quickly see the connection between those thoughts. Research has also shown that those who use mind maps retain more information because of their ability to make those essential connections.

Turning a Mind Map into an Essay

For LD students who struggle with reading and writing, the mind map can be used in many ways, including helping students write essays. It can be difficult for a student with dysgraphia. Executive functioning, or another reading or writing-related disability to construct a coherent essay. By organizing their ideas through mind mapping, students are able to create an outline of the essay before they begin the actual writing process and use the outline as a guide for writing the rest of the essay.

For students with difficulty coming up with ideas to write about, a mind map may simply serve as a tool for determining the direction of the essay. Students write the topic of the essay or the word the essay is about in the middle of the mind map. They then draw lines coming off the main topic of the essay and brainstorm different angles or components of the topic and write words or draw pictures to represent them. When the mind map is complete, students choose one of the angles to write about for the essay.

The above example of this process is found on Wikipedia.

Some resources for mind mapping:

Mindmeister is an online mind mapping application that may be also accessed on a smartphone or tablet. Its simplistic format allows students to quickly and easily create mind maps and connect the information on the mind map. However, students cannot easily add graphics to the make, making it less accessible for some students.

Mindomo, another mind mapping application, has a version designed specifically for use in education. Students can add pictures to their mind maps and customize the colors on the mind map. Special activities and advice are also offered for teachers and parents who want to utilize mind map with students.

Popplet is a simple mind-mapping tool, allowing students to easily create color-coded mind maps featuring text and pictures. A special drawing tool even allows students to draw their own images or symbols into boxes on the mind map.

Inspiration for visual mapping, outlining, writing and making presentations.  This company also has a younger student version kidspiration.

With these applications and the wealth of other mind mapping applications, LD students and others who need help organizing their thoughts can easily create and save mind maps.

Mind maps can be very helpful for writing essays, or even studying for essays on tests where the professor has lectured and the mind map serves as a visual study aid for that lecture.