Make Mind Maps that Stick with Labels

Make Mind Maps that Stick with Labels

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Adhesive address or shipping labels come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which makes them ideal for a variety of activities in the classroom. One way to use labels to encourage critical thinking in the classroom is to have students use labels printed with ideas or topics from a unit of study in order to create mind-maps or diagrams that visually organize information on a topic.

The mind-map is an interdisciplinary strategy where a student or group of students build(s) off a single concept or idea: a drama, an element in chemistry, a biography, a vocabulary word, a event in history, a commercial product. The concept or idea is placed in the center of a blank sheet of paper and representations of other ideas are connected to that central concept are added, branching out in all directions on the page.

Teachers can use mind-maps as a review exercise, a formative assessment, or interim assessment tool, by providing students individually or in groups with printed labels and asking students to organize the information in a way that shows relationships. Along with the topics or ideas provided on the labels, teachers can provide a few blanks and ask students to come up their own labels associated with the central idea to add to the mind map.

Teachers can vary the exercise according to the the size of the paper that allow a few students (poster size) or a large group of students (wall size) to work collaboratively on the mind-map. In preparing the labels, teachers select words, phrases or symbols from a unit of study that are critical to developing student understanding.

Some interdisciplinary examples:

  • Concepts or ideas on labels for Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet (English Language Arts): Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, Paris, Nurse, Friar Lawrence, a letter, a ring, Apothecary, Rosaline, “my only love sprung from my only hate”, “Two households, both alike in dignity.”
  • Concepts or ideas on labels for a biography on Robert E. Lee (Social Studies): Washington College, West Point Military Academy,Mary Custis, Mexican War, Confederacy, President Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Traveller, Harper's Ferry, Appomattox, the Army of Northern Virginia, Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Concepts or ideas on labels for labels for iron (Chemistry): metal, atomic number, Earth's outer and inner core, oxidation states, transitional metal, boiling point, melting point, isotopes, chemical compound(s), industry.

Labels can be created in word processing software such as Word, Pages, and Google Docs and printed on products from manufacturers such as Avery or office supply stores. There are hundreds of templates for different sized labels ranging from full sheets 8.5” X 11”, large shipping labels 4.25" x 2.75", medium size labels 2.83" x 2.2", and small address labels 1.5" x 1".

For those teachers who cannot afford the labels, there are templates that allow them to create their own without adhesive by using label templates made available by World Label, Co. Another alternative is to use the table feature in a word processing program.

Why use labels? Why not have the students simply copy the ideas or concepts from a list onto the blank page?

In this strategy providing pre-printed labels assures that all students will have the labels as common elements on each mind-map. There is value in having students compare and contrast the completed mind maps. A gallery walk that allows students to share the final product clearly illustrates the choices each student or groups of students made in organizing their identical labels.

For teachers and students alike, this label strategy in creating mind-maps visually demonstrates the multiple different points of view and learning styles in any class.