5
September

Back 2 School Essentials – Collaboration


The world today relies more and more on people collaborating to solve various kinds of problems. In this context, across all grades and subjects, school culture should focus on modelling teachers’ and students’ collaborative problem-solving.

Collaborative planning for teachers

    Teachers collaborating on projects across subjects could be a good strategy to make learning relevant and engaging. Among the benefits:
    – leveraging resources, ideas, and learning opportunities
    – students make connections between subjects
    – teachers show they are aware of the importance of other classes
    – teachers are on the same page in terms of not assigning too much homework on any given night or scheduling tests on the same day

    Step 1. Find a collaboration partner

    Step 2. Get resources – if there aren’t internal grants available at your school, search for external grants and resources that meet the needs of your collaborative project.

    Step 3. Set up and develop the curriculum with your grade-level team

    Step 4. Use informal spaces for collaboration.

    Building student collaboration

      Kids need to learn to collaborate and appreciate what others are saying. They also need to learn how to push back if need be, be reflective about their own understanding and build approaches with other people.

      Step 1. Create a group-work problem – this should relate to a goal that’s difficult to accomplish alone, thus the reason for a group assignment. You can think of an element of discovery and curiosity, or try something that connects to a piece of literature.

       

      Step 2. Be flexible in forming groups – let students choose with whom they want to work with and just advise them on the strategy.

      Step 3. Establish student roles – for literature assignments you can assign several roles like the researcher, the facilitator, or the wordsmith role. You can also have the interpreter, the critic, the summarizer, the checker, the artist or the vocabulary helper roles. All in all, each student should have his own area of expertise so that the end result is rigorous and complete.

      Step 4. Individual and collective assessment – though the final result might be good, some students might not have contributed sufficiently. Or vice versa. You need to know exactly who did what in order to properly assess each group’s activity. Try to provide specific, timely feedback and to make it available to the entire group.

      Step5. Build comfort around speaking in front of the classroom – students need to practice public speaking, so set up a classroom debate. Give each group the possibility to explain their thinking process while completing the assignment, and to answer their colleagues’ questions.

      Collaborative teaching challenges teachers to provide diverse learning environments for their students. Collaborative learning means students will be working together to construct knowledge that did not exist before their collaboration. We’d love to hear if you have any plans or ideas on how to use the power of collaboration in your classes. Plus, if you need some tips on how Mindomo can help, we’re here to assist you.



      Keep it smart, simple and creative!
      The Mindomo Team

2
September

Unresponsive servers

Hi guys,

This morning, as we were upgrading our servers, we experienced some technical difficulties. This lead for almost an hour to unresponsive servers and some of you not being able to access your mind maps.
We have fixed the problem, so please contact us if you still encounter any issues in accessing your work. We’re very sorry for any inconveniences this situation might have caused you!

The Mindomo Team

6
July

Concept mapping as an aid for ADD

ADD is a condition associated with learning and concentration difficulties. People suffering from ADD, usually children and teenagers, find it hard to focus on a task as their brains jump from one topic to another, restlessly.  This is why those suffering from this condition require special learning and teaching methods.

The mind mapping and concept mapping method is a simple way to capture our thoughts by visualization, without necessarily organizing or prioritizing them. This is very similar to how our minds work. In other words, mind maps could be perfect for those suffering from ADD as they encourage the mind to roam freely on a desired subject without boxing itself into constricting and tedious topics.

ADD is a very real and common disorder that affects 11% of schoolchildren and has risen 42% in the last 10 years. Still,  by taking the following steps, anyone suffering from ADD can learn something new the easy way:

Step 1. Identify major themes

One has to think of what is the most important piece of information, then put in the center of a mind map. As soon as one discovers other themes, he should place them around the center theme, leaving some space for detailed description and other information.

Step 2. Add some details

Depending on the structure of the information, one might have to use a different approach in collecting and segregating notes. If the information is already well organized and presented in a structured manner, it’s relatively easy to keep notes on particular subjects together. If the information is more disorganized (the lecturer conveys it this way or it comes from different sources), one might have to make quick notes and organize them later, perhaps by connecting them with lines or grouping them by subjects. Using keywords in large print with lots of space around is suggested.

Step 3. Find relationships

After collecting the notes, one has to sort them out and use colors to mark related topics. Also, connecting information to relevant subtopics using colored lines or arrows is advised.



Step 4. Re-sketching final map

In order to put all information into meaning, some items will have to be moved around. Consider introducing borders to make the whole image easier to read and to minimize confusion. Any technique that helps with data recollection should be used (funny representations, cartoon figures, videos etc.). Additional facts could be added at this point if one can recall them or after some relevant research on the topic.

It’s a proven fact that images are easier to recall than text, so we challenge people with ADD to give concept mapping a try. It will help them turn long lectures or voluminous information into something meaningful, easier to recall and explain to others.

Keep it smart, simple and creative!
The Mindomo Team

 

14
June

Update on the unscheduled downtime

As some of you might now, we experienced an unscheduled downtime on the 6th of June, between 10:35 AM GMT and the 7th of June 0:45 AM GMT. In this post, I would like to give you more details about this downtime and explain what happened.

On the 6th of June, during the data migration for one of our clients, our database administrator accidentally deleted one of our main tables from the production database. The deletion immediately propagated to our master-slave setup and the only way we could recover the data was to import it back from our backup.
Unfortunately, the restoration was a lengthy process that also forced us to stop the access to our servers. After the restoration of the backup, we also needed to recover the maps which were created between the backup time and the data loss time.

We were able to do this because we had a secondary database with all the data. Although we only needed to recover maps which were created and modified in a 4-hour period, this took us several days because we had no quick procedures for extracting the data from the secondary database.
Even though the access to our databases is limited to qualified persons and the person who did the migration was fully qualified, it seems that human error is sometimes unavoidable.

Steps we took in order to avoid this in the future:
a) we are working on a new backup method where the restoration in case of such disaster will be much faster
b) we updated our procedures so we can extract the data from the secondary database much faster
c) during the database migration we will assign 2 persons which will check each other’s commands

I am deeply sorry for all the inconveniences we caused you and I can only hope you will choose to stay with us after this unfortunate event.

Sincerely yours,
Zoltan Lorincz
CEO – Mindomo

13
June

3-Step, Visual Approach To Solve Any Problem

You know you are facing a problem when you find yourself in a condition which is different than the desired one. If the problem is simple, then the solution is usually quite obvious. But when you’re facing a more complex issue, the card up your sleeve is to get in a problem-solving state of mind.

There is a saying that in order to understand a problem profoundly, you need to see the bigger picture. If this doesn’t come naturally at first, mind mapping will help you. Mind maps let you create visual databases, so you can see everything in one page – the root of your problem, its causes, on-the-spot ideas on how you can fix it, etc.

Let’s take an example: you have a travel agency that’s going through an image crisis. A quick and efficient way to do a problem diagnosis would be to create a mind map around these simple questions:

1 What is the real problem?

The first step is to clearly state the issue you are facing and identify what is real or true about it, as factually as it can be determined.

2 What is going on?  Why did this problem occur?

 This is the point where you start collecting and analyzing all the information you have about the problem. You need to determine if your problem is being influenced by your organization (structure) or a function (process). Also, you need to know exactly who are the people affected by the issue.

3 How to avoid the problem? How to ameliorate it? What actions will solve the problem?

This step is about solution planning. You have to evaluate the whole situation, point out all your alternatives, select the ones you’ll be implementing and prioritize them. Don’t forget to think of how you will determine if your actions made a difference or not.

Problems occur all the time, and no matter how small or big, the most important thing is for you to come up with imaginative and rather stress-free solutions. That’s  why problem solving is so looked for by universities and employers. If you want to develop or boost this important skill, mind mapping is always a good idea.

Keep it smart, simple and creative!
The Mindomo Team