I have used mind maps many times with my KS3 and KS4 classes to great effect. They are great for getting the kids to spot the connections between different areas of maths, and also an excellent way to review a topic. I am a big fan of them.
It was kind of surprising to me then, when I realised I had never done one with one of my A-Level groups. The opportunity arose just before half term, when my M1 class asked for an overview revision lesson in the last lesson, as they have mocks straight after the break.
I decided that I would get them to do a mind map of everything we had covered in M1 already, and hence everything that was going to be in the mock, showing the things they needed to know, and the connections between them.
They worked in pairs and came up with some very nice designs. All the information was pretty much the same on all of them, some taking a more diagramatic approach, whilst others were a bit more wordy. But the content was all there. What was amazing was what happened next. They started to have a look at each others, and spot things they had forgotten about. They quickly added these bits. Then one of them asked if they could have copies, so they could both have a copy of it for revision. But then some of them said they wanted copies of some of the others. All in all, most of them wanted copies of two of the different posters, which I went and did for them whilst they worked on some questions.
When I brought the copies back, one of the girls asked an interesting question. She said "why did you go for that one?". Once we got over the slightly offensive intonation, the response came "Because it is the most mathematical". This the prompted a discussion of why they chose the ones they did, and were they the best reasons to choose.
It was an interesting experience, and in future I shall get groups to look at each others, and decide which they would choose (but I might not do that much colour A3 photocopying again!) and why. This seems like a perfect plenary to a tried and tested activity.
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a current interest in integrating educational research into my practice.