Anthony Valentin, or Mr. V as he’s more commonly known to his students, is a World History teacher at New York City’s famed Stuyvesant High School. On a daily basis, Mr. V teaches to 168 students divided amongst five classes and has been doing so for the past 25 years. To reach tomorrow’s leaders and instill in them not only critical thinking skills but collaborative and team efforts to solve challenging problems, Valentin uses MindMeister. Here’s how:
MindMeister in the Classroom
A long time personal mind mapper, Mr. V has been a MindMeister customer since our original beta testing phase. He says, of his initial search, that he was after a mind mapping application that wouldn’t tie him to a specific computer. Yet, the application had to be intuitive and simple to master without extensive use of the school’s computer facilities. MindMeister filled the need.
“Students master the application quickly. As ninth graders, they do need an introduction to the concept of mind mapping, but one session in front of the computer is all it takes.”
Once in the classroom, Mr. V points to the uses of MindMeister.
“Mind mapping allows me to assign tasks or explain concepts graphically. Students have varied learning styles, and mind mapping appears to aid most of them. By their very nature, mind maps present thoughts and ideas in a logical progression. In my History course, discussing why certain ideas are linked or sequenced invites a new round of inquiry.”
From Classroom to Homework
When it comes down to functionality, Mr. V regularly creates topic and discussion templates and then circulates these to all of his students. These templates may either be filled in by students or used as a springboard to create their own maps. Valentin notes that for individual and simpler assignments, students usually work alone, but work as groups on larger-scale projects. These assignments generally begin in the classroom and then carry over into homework activities.
“I often use MindMeister to elicit responses to questions posed after students had watched a film or read a document. Other students can then edit and/or substitute their own commentary. The goal is to get students to think critically about sources and share their thoughts,” comments Mr. V. “We review the work in class by projecting the mind map on a screen using my MindMeister for iPad app.”
While Mr. V is quite happy using MindMeister in the classroom and beyond, he’s quick to point out two essential features that make MindMeister his top choice.
MindMeister’s exclusive History View has been used by many to track who made what changes, to what map, and when. Carrying this experience over to the classroom was a logical choice for Mr. V. “The history playback feature is absolutely awesome. I use it all the time. With it, I can see student progress over time. I can evaluate decisions made in the map’s construction. I can also verify student participation. I must say that this single feature made my use of MindMeister quadruple!”
In addition to having a bird’s eye view of his students’ progress, Mr. V also takes full advantage of our embedding feature. A topic we’ve previously covered, MindMeister’s embedding feature allows for easy embedding of any publicly viewable mind map in any HTML editor. “Embedding mind maps into our course website and blog is a vitally important feature. I use it often and it adds greater academic value to our course website. Embedding permits me to place a mind map in context with the subject materials.”
The End Result
As a result of Anthony Valentin’s application of MindMeister in the classroom he reports a noted increase in students’ test scores. “I have seen complex and content rich mind maps. I can attest to the improved test scores my students have had while using mind maps for content reviews.”