Mind Mapping for Retrieval Practice

Shared by Jonathan White

All of our iPads have on them a very simple mind mapping app called Popplet. This app allows one to create "popples" or bubbles, containing a word, concept, picture, or drawing. You can then draw connections among these to create complex concept maps and diagrams.

Mind mapping is one tool that can be usefully employed for retrieval practice. At the start of a lesson, girls can be given a "seed concept" -- the centre bubble -- on the board or verbally (or as an image distributed via Classroom*). They then have a few minutes to build a mind map of all of the concepts, facts, etc. that they can recall related to that "seed" item; this is best completed without their notes.

Having built these mind maps, the girls will have brought the information from a previous lesson to mind, the 'retrieval practice'. You could then take the activity in a few directions:

  • Girls can save their maps for later review, and the class can move on.
  • In a manner similar to that described by Jenny Stevens in her fableau lesson, the teacher can circulate and look over shoulders to get a sense of who may have a particularly complete diagram that could be shared with the class via AirPlay, or by having the student connect their iPad to the projector. That student can then act as scribe to the class as they complete the map. That map can then be shared as a class resource for all girls.
  • Girls could export and and submit their maps to the teacher for review via Classroom.
  • Girls could explain their maps to a neighbour, helping each other to build more complete diagrams. (In a manner not unlike "Think - Pair - Share" -- the mind map serves as their thinking space before they share those thoughts with a peer.)
  • The teacher could have a scribe project their map, and then draw in today's new idea/concept with its initial connection(s) to begin introducing the material.
  • As a variation, small groups could be given different "seeds" to draw out various aspects of a previous lesson. (e.g. "Causes of the American Civil War" could be a seed, or it equally could be an overarching concept, and groups be seeded with "Tariffs," "Slavery," "States' Rights" etc.). The mind maps generated can then be shared with the class via Classroom for later review.

How to Use Popplet

Popplet is a very simple app. Simply double-tap on the blue canvas to create your first "popple." Double-tap elsewhere to create another, unconnected, popple, or tap on one of the four directional handles on your original popple to create a branching one. To connect two popples, grab one of those handles on the first one, and drag it to the other.

While you have a popple selected, options along its bottom allow you to change its outline colour, format the text, add a freehand drawing, or insert a photo from the camera roll.

Completed popples can be exported as JPG images to the iPad's camera roll.

A more thorough tutorial can be found here:

Bellow, Adam. "Popplet." YouTube, 29 March 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxLDsWHsQ1g

*References to Classroom in this article can refer to either Google Classroom or Apple Classroom, as both products have the necessary features.