Learning Central, Part 2
Step 2. Add details.
If your teacher lectures in an organized manner, keep related themes and facts together. If her delivery is scattershot, you'll have to connect information to lines radiating from the center in a clockwise fashion, and sort it out later. Use key words instead of sentences. Print large, and leave lots of white space.
Step 3. Look for relationships.
After the lecture, edit your map. First, pick out related ideas and categorize them by color. In the "Edited Draft," details about the crew are in red, equipment in gold, dates in black, statistics in violet, terminology in blue, and interesting facts in green.
Next, look for an organizing principle. In our Apollo 11 example, the stages of the moon mission—Lift-off, Moon Landing, and While on Moon—stand out as a way to impose chronological order to the map. Add "Crew" as another topic, and you have four major themes around which to organize the information. (If a topic heading isn't already on the map, add it.) Number the topics to indicate their chronological order, and assign a different color to each.
Step 4. "Move" things around.
Using lines and arrows, connect pieces of information to the appropriate topic, matching the color of the lines to the topic color. In some cases, you may decide not to group an item with the topic of the same color. For example, notice that the item "Neil Armstrong—One Small Step" (referring to the astronaut's memorable words, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind") is outlined in red because it relates to the crew. But in the final map, it is grouped with "While on Moon."
Step 5. Redraw the map.
Shuffling items, as directed by the arrows, creates a final mind map. Introduce sketches or borders to make information stand out. Add cartoon figures or funny representations that will help you recall details. If you remember additional facts from the lecture, add them to the map in the appropriate place. If you missed any details the first time, look them up and add them.
Now step back and take a look. You've turned an hour's lecture into an organized, understandable, and visually memorable mind map. If you have an exam coming up, study the map and try redrawing it from memory to etch it into your mind. You'll be amazed at how visualizing the colors, sketches, and location of facts on the page allows you to recall information. Draw additional mind maps as you review course materials or re-read important chapters, and you'll be ready to ace the exam.
This article comes from the February/March 2006 issue of ADDitude.