We put a few questions to Toni upon the launch of his new book (available here) and he was kind enough to give us some answers:
Toni, many of our members will already be familiar with your work, but for those who are not, can you give us a quick overview of your background?
For many years now, I’ve been an enthusiastic proponent of the use of mind maps in education. It started with my personal use of mind maps, followed by using mind maps with my students, and has led to my present ambition to encourage widespread use of mind maps in schools at all levels – kindergarten through graduate.
I have a very diverse background, consisting of training in environmental chemistry and international business, as well as experience in academia, business consulting, and environmental policy. This wide range of interests is a direct result of my lifelong-learning mind set. I’m constantly trying to learn more so that I can grow my knowledge and skills, and, in turn, contribute my own ideas.
Mind mapping has played an integral role in my life for over a decade, stemming from my initial discovery of the technique while in business school. For me, mind mapping offers measurable benefits over plain text and linear thinking in that it helps me improve my thinking, learning, and communicating of ideas.
What motivated you to put together your new book, Mind Mapping for Kids?
As a college professor, I’ve often seen students struggle in school mainly because they were never taught how to learn. Frustrated and overwhelmed with the volume of material being thrown at them, many of them give up on true understanding and resort to memorization to make it through their classes. By experimenting with mind maps in my own classroom starting in 2004, I discovered that many of my students found them extremely helpful in making sense of material. In 2010, encouraged by the success of my students, I published my first book, Concise Learning (aka How to Study with Mind Maps), to help other students learn how to use the mind mapping method used in my classrooms.
Two reasons prompted me to write Mind Mapping for Kids: How Elementary School Students Can Use Mind Maps to Improve Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking: (1) Inquiries from parents and teachers in elementary schools asking for tips on using mind maps in primary education and (2) my toddler. By devoting my last two years to learning about reading comprehension, I came to realize that mind maps can be very effective in helping children understand what they’re reading, even at the beginning levels.
What are the key areas of focus in the new book?
MMFK helps elementary school students develop higher-level thinking and improve their reading comprehension using mind maps and eight reading comprehension strategies.
Part I of the book discusses the fundamentals of mind mapping for teachers and students. Part II demonstrates how to use mind maps and the eight reading comprehension strategies to help students develop higher-level thinking and better comprehend what they’re reading. Part III provides 20 examples of mind mapping uses in school and at home.
Who do you think would benefit the most from reading the book?
My intention with MMFK is to provide a comprehensive resource for parents and teachers on how to introduce mind maps to their kids and students and how to use mind maps to improve reading comprehension. These younger students are, therefore, the focus of MMFK, but students in higher grades can also benefit from mind mapping and can read the book on their own.
Tell us how you have used Biggerplate as an extension of the book?
MMFK contains over 50 mind maps, and I’ve shared 12 of them on Biggerplate, my favorite mind map sharing site and community of mind mappers.
Here are the links to the 12 MMFK maps shared on Biggerplate: Learn to Write Letters and Numbers with Mind Maps, Mind Mapping Tips, Electronic Mapping vs. Paper Mapping, Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction, Managing Information with Mind Maps, The 3 Little Pigs, Class Planning with Mind Maps, Young Scientists, 8 Reading Comprehension Strategies: VIP ACCESS, 8 Reading Comprehension Strategies Combined, Mind Maps in Elementary School Classrooms, and Tips on Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies.
When and where is the book available to buy?
MMFK is now available on Amazon and iBooks.
To encourage students, teachers, and parents to try mind mapping, I’m offering a special incentive: over $25,000 in prizes.
Anything else we should know?
I hope that my two books will successfully motivate more teachers to introduce map mapping in schools, both at the elementary and college levels, because I know that mind maps can help students become better learners. If I can reach one student a day, that’s reward enough for me. With your help, we can reach many more and expand our worldwide mind mapping community. Thank you for your support!