Creative Mind Map Lessons: Bringing Brain Friendly Fun to Your Class

It is no lie- students do not enjoy taking notes. At all. It’s boring, they can’t follow along and they are hard to study from. Is there any other way for our students to still ‘take notes’ but in a fun and creative way? Or course there is! Start using creative mind map lessons 

Using mind mapping is a great way to get your upper elementary, middle school, & high school students engaged in learning! It allows students to doodle while adding pictures & visuals to their work. It's an inspiring & logical way to engage students in note taking. It also maps out ideas so they can recall material! Use this post to learn all about creative mind map lessons & how they can help students with brainstorming, problem solving, memorization, planning, researching, presenting, & MORE!

Mind mapping and concept mapping

Better yet, I am providing them in both a PDF version for those who prefer doing things with paper and pencil (or crayon and markers) and in a paperless version for those who prefer to complete this in a tech-infused classroom.

The best thing about these types of maps are they can be used for any class, for any lesson, and for any text. All your students have to worry about is coloring and being CREATIVE!

Mind mapping is pretty awesome. It’s a tool that incorporates graphics, words, numbers, and color that represent and reflect a specific lesson or concept. Students tend to memorize and remember facts and concepts so much more when they can associate color and images to it. 

Using creative mind map lessons in your classroom allows your students to add their own doodle notes, pictures, symbols, branches, color, and visuals to their work. It's an inspiring and logical way to engage in note-taking that "maps out" your ideas in free-form. They can be used for:

  • Note taking
  • Brainstorming (individually or in groups)
  • Problem solving
  • Studying and memorization
  • Planning
  • Researching and consolidating information from multiple sources
  • Gaining insight on complex subjects
  • Jogging your creativity


The process of creative mind map lessons takes place in "real-time." Meaning this - It is not an afterthought or a poster project. It is not a post-assessment. Teachers misuse mind maps as a way to organize notes or have students present a poster of information to their peers with large scale images. 

The mind map is used as a way to visually brainstorm and gather ideas. Mind maps are great to look at after they are created. This is why students love them. You can apply the process for the early stages of generating ideas, laying out a project, or gathering evidence. 

Minds maps are not meant to be graded with a rubric or even graded at all. You want the students to learn through the entire process. 


Using mind mapping is a great way to get your upper elementary, middle school, & high school students engaged in learning! It allows students to doodle while adding pictures & visuals to their work. It's an inspiring & logical way to engage students in note taking. It also maps out ideas so they can recall material! Use this post to learn all about creative mind map lessons & how they can help students with brainstorming, problem solving, memorization, planning, researching, presenting, & MORE!
  
Students can use mind maps to link together different concepts, generate more ideas, organize their thoughts, and find new pathways for concepts that they normally would never have thought of if they were taking standard notes. When it’s all complete, it looks like a tree with a bunch of branches that stem from whatever topic you wish you assign.


Students can sit together and discuss their mind maps. As you facilitate the activity, reinforce the idea that the product is individual, original, and personal. Students should not fill in their mind map based on what their friends wrote.

Reminders: Brainstorming is an informal way of generating topics to write about, or points- to make about your topic. The important point about brainstorming is that there should be no pressure to be “perfect." You should simply open your mind to whatever pops into it. 

How to Mind Map using an activity from Study All Knight:


Print the PDF. You have a choice between the gray scale or the color version.  For PAPERLESS, I recommend the brightly colored version. 

Make your page (PDF or Google Slide) HORIZONTAL OR LANDSCAPE. This will give you more room. You are not starting from scratch- but, here is the idea of the mind map for you to understand better the philosophy behind it. 

Find the CENTER of the page. This is where your MAIN IDEA/TOPIC/THEME/ETC will go. For better creativity, using an IMAGE that represents the main idea works best. 

Your BRANCHES will stem from the main idea. These branches will contain notes and facts and information related to the main idea. These branches will also have secondary and tertiary branches that contain further information that builds upon the prior branch. They all contain associations and relationships.
Using mind mapping is a great way to get your upper elementary, middle school, & high school students engaged in learning! It allows students to doodle while adding pictures & visuals to their work. It's an inspiring & logical way to engage students in note taking. It also maps out ideas so they can recall material! Use this post to learn all about creative mind map lessons & how they can help students with brainstorming, problem solving, memorization, planning, researching, presenting, & MORE!

On each branch, use a KEYWORD rather than a sentence. It’s easier to look at and to remember. Use IMAGES and COLOR throughout as well.

In my resources, I include clip art for your students to color. You will see I have inserted “light gray” lines throughout the map for your students to add their own text. I’ve included versions without the lines, too.

Your students should add their own text on blanks. You can prompt them to do this through a guided lesson OR your students can do this on their own. 

Coloring and creativity is SO important
with mind mapping and creative mind map lessons! 


Using mind mapping is a great way to get your upper elementary, middle school, & high school students engaged in learning! It allows students to doodle while adding pictures & visuals to their work. It's an inspiring & logical way to engage students in note taking. It also maps out ideas so they can recall material! Use this post to learn all about creative mind map lessons & how they can help students with brainstorming, problem solving, memorization, planning, researching, presenting, & MORE!

Paperless? GOOGLE Drive? Allow your students to insert images from the web and add text by inserting text boxes. The mind map resources also work amazingly well with the Notability app and Microsoft One Note. Just upload the color version PDF file to the application. Then from there you can use a stylus to add the text or draw beautiful images.

Another awesome tool our students can use that replace standard note-taking is concept mapping. These types of maps can be used to represent the relationships students can build within a main idea or topic and its general and specific concepts. Students can use concept mapping to better understand theories and concepts related to a given topic, to group concepts into subgroups of concepts and to understand relationships of each concept and how everything is related to one another. It also encourages creativity from the student in the form of brainstorming and enhances the use of higher-level thinking. 

How to Concept Map:

Decide what the main idea/topic will be for your students. Like the mind mapping format, you can place the main idea/topic in the middle of a landscaped page. 

Students will then determine key concepts related to that main idea. They should start with more general concepts first and then gradually create more specific concepts. 
Students then connect the different concepts together, showing how they are further related to one another. 

As they make these further connections, they use a KEYWORD to represent that further connection as sort of an explanation of WHY/HOW they are connected. This can be done by drawing arrows or just lines and writing on top or inside the arrow. 


Using mind mapping is a great way to get your upper elementary, middle school, & high school students engaged in learning! It allows students to doodle while adding pictures & visuals to their work. It's an inspiring & logical way to engage students in note taking. It also maps out ideas so they can recall material! Use this post to learn all about creative mind map lessons & how they can help students with brainstorming, problem solving, memorization, planning, researching, presenting, & MORE!

Similarly, the use of COLOR and IMAGES when using concept mapping will help students remember information more efficiently and help understand concepts and their relationships better.

Mind mapping and concept mapping are both more effective at helping students understand main ideas and their related concepts. When using my resources, I strongly encourage the students take the time to be CREATIVE with their use of imagery and coloring. Again, I provide both a PDF and a Paperless version to fit the needs of your classroom. 

Look for more coming soon! I love them! I am busy creating a wide variety of mind maps for a variety of texts and main ideas. I am exploring my love for teaching literature and the possibilities of using mind maps to visualize "all things English language arts." My goal is for you and your students to enjoy creative mind map lessons as much as I do!

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Back to School Night: 10 Tips to be Prepared and A Schedule

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” - said no teacher ever. If you are anything like me, you cherish those summer months. You cringe at the thought of going back to school. You cry when you receive those late August welcome back e-mails. You are just not ready and it’s just not fair!


But let’s face it, it’s time to return to our beloved classrooms and soon enough, host yet another Back to School night, or Open House, to some schools. Some teachers love this night, some teachers dread it. I personally enjoy it. I like meeting my students’ parents/guardians/family members. I like getting a short glimpse into where my students come from.
If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.

What is the purpose of Back to School night? It is the time when you get to introduce yourself and your classroom to the families of your students. It’s not ALL about you, the teacher. It’s about you AND the classes you teach. A successful Back to School night showcases a combination of the two. The families are equally interested in both you AND what classes their children are taking this school year.


I know what you’re thinking, “How can I have a successful night?” or “What tips do you have for me for Back to School night?”

Top ten tips to have a great night:

  • Be Positive: you want to be upbeat, always smiling and excited to be there. If you’re not, it’s obvious.
  • Greet the families at your door: shake their hand at the door and welcome them to your classroom.
  • Have a sign-in sheet: This is a perfect spot to get parental contact information such as their name, phone number and e-mail address.
If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.

Leave a sign in sheet out on a clip board with a pen attached. As families enter the room, encourage them to fill it in. Its an easy way to record who was there that night. Many times, administration requires this and will want a photocopy of it. Be prepared.

  • Give out handouts: These include course proficiency list and class rules, among any other important handouts you want to give them.

If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.
I use this back to school night flip book. I add all of my pertinent information for the families to take home with them.


  • Provide “exit tickets” or Post-Its for the families to leave any questions, comments or concerns they may have: They might not want to ask questions out loud or just want to speed the night up so this provides a quicker, more private way to get their questions to you. Assure them you will address each and every exit ticket or post-it you receive.

If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.

  • Create a OneSheet: These are like a snapshot of YOU: a little about you, how to get in contact with you, your teaching schedule, email address, phone number, etc...
  • Make teacher-business cards: Like a normal business card: name, phone number, email address. Very convenient for families to hold on to for when they need to get in touch with you!
  • Display student work on the walls: The families, and administrators love to see student work displayed. It shows the educational fun that happens everyday in your classroom! 
    If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.
    Dedicate some time before open house to decorate your room appropriate for grade level and subject area. Word walls are great. Shown here is a "word wall tree." The leaves are the words that are a part of English Language Arts grades 9-12. 

  • Interact with the families: Ask them questions! Don’t just lecture! That’s when they start to tune you out and not pay attention. Kind of like our students, right?
  • Shake their hands and thank them for visiting you as they leave your classroom: Be sure to shake their hand and thank them. It is the polite thing to do and it will leave them with a great impression of you!


At my school, we hold Back to School Night for two hours at the end of September. We have 8 periods in total. We start the night with meeting in our homeroom, and then proceed to each of the 8 classes. The families follow their children’s schedule, seeing which classes and teachers they choose. Each class meets for 7 minutes, and the families get a 5 minute window to find their next class. Seven minutes can either seem like an eternity if you’re not prepared, or it can go by in a flash if you are well prepared!


If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.

Lucky for you, I have created a time schedule that can be adjusted to your needs so you are well prepared down the very minute!


0:00-1:00: Meet and greet! Say good evening, welcome the families as they enter your classroom, have them sign-in with their name, phone number and e-mail address and  instruct them to take your pre-made handouts before they pick a seat.

1:01-2:00: Introduce yourself! Who are you, where did you go to college, how long have you been teaching, what do you love about teaching? Short, sweet and to the point. That’s always best.


2:01-5:00: During this time, you will want to refer to the handouts you provided. These handouts should include a copy of course proficiencies and a copy of classroom rules. You will also want to discuss what types of activities your students will be doing, what types of technology your students will be working with, and anything else particular to your class.


5:01-6:00: Invite the families to do a gallery-walk around your classroom to view the displayed work of your students during the first month of school. They love seeing this stuff!
If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.
I love to bring attention to student's work by walking over to it, and asking something like, "Does anyone remember reading Shakespeare in high school?" Then, I point out some of the cool and interesting details included in the project.


6:01-7:00: Provide an “exit ticket” or Post-It for any questions, comments or concerns they make have. Upon exiting, provide them your personal business card and your OneSheet and thank them for coming tonight.

You can adapt this to fit your needs but this is a basic run-down of a successful Back to School Night. Being unprepared leads to awkward silences and weird stares that make everyone uncomfortable. It gives a terrible first impression and the whole point of the night is to give the best first impression you can.


Hopefully you’ll find this helpful as we move into the start of another exciting school year! Best of luck to all of you as you prepare for Back to School Night and the rest of the school year!

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Visual Images and Digital Interactive Notebooks

How many of you have ever seen digital interactive notebooksProbably many of you reading this right now. Now, how many of you are totally stumped about why and how you can use them? Don't worry! I am here... tell you all about these digital interactive notebooks!

Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!










What makes digital interactive notebooks so special?

Digital interactive notebooks are similar to regular paper and pencil interactive notebooks, except they are, you guessed it, all digital! They are all online. No making endless photocopies, no waiting years for your students to cut and paste everything, no wasting precious classroom time assembling. If you are familiar with the paper and pencil versions, then the digital version will be a breeze.

How are digital interactive notebooks created?

Digital interactive notebooks are created using Google Slides. Why? Google slides is the easiest platform for creating. It gives you easy access to all of the different shapes and it’s so simple for your students to move these shapes around as needed. It’s also so convenient for you, the teacher, to customize all of the activities from the templates to your own subject area and content. 

Digital interactive notebooks basically look like a bunch of graphic organizers, but in the digital form. Why is this amazing for a teacher? You can use them over and over again, for multiple subjects and topics! 



What if a student is absent? 

You have the ability to prepare an already-filled out page and print it out for those students. These notebooks help different types of learning as well, such as kinesthetic learners and visual learners.

Once you have access to all of the templates, you’re probably wondering what to do now. There are categories for the visual images - sequential, cyclical, conceptual, and hierarchical. Listed below are ten ideas you can use for your students:

1. Hamburger: Think of the layers of a hamburger. Your students can use this as a tool to help with the writing process, or something similar. Each layer of the hamburger represents a step in a process.



Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!

2. Ice Cream Cone: Similar to the hamburger, each scoop of your cone represents a step in a process or a series of ideas. 


Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!

3. Ladder: Another useful tool for representing the order or steps of different processes.

4. KWL: “What I know, What I Wonder, What I Learned”, you can create movable pieces and text boxes for students to continually update throughout a lesson or unit. 


Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!

5. Pyramid: Also similar to the hamburger template, the pyramid can be used as a tool to show a hierarchy of things, or an order of things. 

6. Tree: I have used the tree template when working with root words of vocabulary. It’s a good visual representation when learning where common words come from and what words are related. 

7. Mountain: The mountain template can best be used when discussing the plots of the novels you are reading. You can create movable pieces, and the students need to identify parts such as the climax, resolution, and rising action. 

8. 5 Senses: This template can be used for a character study, where students have to create ‘senses’ for the character in their novel. For example, using text boxes, students create what the character ‘sees’, ‘smells’, ‘hears’, ‘tastes’ and ‘feels’.

Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!
All shown here are visual images that you can use in a digital interactive notebooks:
The 5 senses, tree, mountain, and gears all included.

9. Venn Diagrams: Most commonly used for comparing and contrasting different ideas and subjects.

10. Gears: When you think of gears, you think of pieces moving and working together. Your students can use this template to learn how different things work together, or discover the ‘flow’ of things. 



Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!

These are just ten different ideas you can use as you create your own digital interactive notebooks. The true beauty of having all of these templates are that you can reuse them over and over again, for a million different topics, in a million different ways. The possibilities are endless, and your students will have so much fun with them.



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Celebrate Innovative Classroom Technology Day


Getting ready for back to school? In my own classroom, I am preparing for more engaging digital interactive notebooks. My grade 9 English language arts classes always start off with a fun short stories unit. I love flip books (who doesn't, right?) In order to go paperless and take advantage of our technology, I converted the flip book to share in our Google Classroom. My students can now use it right on their chrome book or tablet. I cannot wait for them to dive in!

On July 25th we celebrate Innovative Classroom Technology Day. Teachers from all over the world are preparing technology infused lessons and activities. Here are some informative blog posts and engaging digital lessons to use in your classroom. I hope you enjoy them! 

GO INTERACTIVE! GO DIGITAL!

Innovative Classroom Technology Link-Up for Grades 6-12.  Check out these helpful blog posts and classroom resources...

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What kind of innovative technology are you using in your classroom?

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