Collaborative Tools: Using Mind Meister for Student Collaboration

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Grade Level: 4th-12th Grade
Subject: English-Language Arts/Humanities and Electives
Sub-Subject: Collaboration/Earth Charter Principles
Length/Duration: 2 class periods (1 hour each)/On-going
Technologies Used: Mindmeister, Wikispaces

Background[edit | edit source]

According to Dewey (1902), the modern child has traditionally been taught in ways which each content and concepts are taught separately. When this is the case, there are no personal connections for the child to reference. Learning is seen as separate and scattered. It is this pedagogical model that I seek to reform in this lesson. Concept mapping is not a new idea. However, in schools it is often done on paper or poster board and lost with time. Mindmeisteris a collaborative concept mapping tool that will not only allow multiple users to work together, but it will live on in cyberspace for as long as the owner of the map wishes it to remain.

Clay Shirky (2009) speaks on social media and its effects on communication. The internet has evolved into a platform for the consumers of media to become generators of their own media message. Using Mindmeister to track ideas as they evolve in the classroom allows for students to be the generator of their own messages and track their learning process. This allows for students to make the connections from one concept to another and track how each new thought was generated from the thought that preceded it.

While it is important to have a medium for students to engage in collaboration, the content and message of the collaborative process is equally important. The content focus of this lesson is "peace". When we take a powerful concept such as "peace" we can build on its historical, political, and social implications. We can draw on many cultures to explore this concept from multiple points of view.

Finally, the use of on-line collaborative tools, such as Mindmeister allows for collaborators to be invited from around the world. On-line tools are a platform for globalized education. Globalized education opportunities are one of the many goals of the The Earth Charter Initiative. The Earth Charter principle 1.3 describes the goal of building a democratic society that is just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful. Through content choices and on-line collaboration, we can lead the pursuit of these ideas.

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Lesson Plan[edit | edit source]

Objective:[edit | edit source]

This lesson is designed to integrate technology and the principles of The Earth Charter. Specifically, this lesson will introduce students to MindMeister, a collaborative mind mapping tool. Students will collaboratively define "peace" and embed digital resources that support their thinking. This collaborative mind map will be utilize as a tracking tool for gathering research and evidence. Students will then use this body of evidence to extend their thinking about "peace" by creating a 3-5 minute video or design a Wikispace to promote peace.

Engage:[edit | edit source]

Direct students to the Wikipedia page: September 11 attacks. Have students read the page and ask students to consider how people may have felt at this time. Next, have students write just one word or a short phrase to explain their thinking about September 11 on paper, wad it into a ball, and throw it in the middle of the room. Next, have each student select a paper ball and share the word or phrase written on the paper ball. Discuss how individual words and short phrases can be powerful.

Explore:[edit | edit source]

Have students login to MindMeister and begin collaboration on mind mapping "peace" with one or more collaborators. Collaborative mind mapping should not be done individually. Remind students to utilize powerful words and phrases to define "peace". You may want to provide students the following questions to consider as they begin responding to some of the following questions in the mind map: 1. What does peace look like? 2. What does peace feel like? 3. What is the opposite of peace and how does this happen? 4. How can you help promote peace in your life?

In addition to writing words and phrases, encourage students to add links to other websites, videos, or attach documents to expand their thinking about "peace".

Sample Collaborative Map

Explain:[edit | edit source]

Have students choose one branch of the peace mind map, beginning with the root node, and present how one node connects to the next.

Elaborate:[edit | edit source]

Provide students with choices to elaborate on their learning about "peace". For example, you could have students create or design their own mind map on MindMeister on another principle from The Earth Charter or students could search for other collaborative maps about peace and compare it to their collaborative map.

Evaluate:[edit | edit source]

This is a collaborative project and should evaluated as such. A sample rubric is available from Rubistar.

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References[edit | edit source]

Dewey, J. (1902). The child and the curriculum. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Merryfield, M. (2003). Like a veil: Cross-cultural experiential learning online. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 3(2), 146-171.

Shirky, C. (2009). How social media can make history [TED talk]. Retrieved from

See Also[edit | edit source]




The Earth Charter Preamble

Educational Technologies

Educational Technologies Lesson Plans