Science - Take note

3rd August 2012 at 01:00
Mind-mapping helps to brand information in pupils' brains

It is the usual problem: you want pupils to have some notes to help them study but a photocopied sheet will just be stuck in their books and never read.

Mind-mapping is an effective way of taking notes and remembering information, but it needs to be taught and practised regularly to become effective. Crucially, changing the form of information is what helps it to stick in your brain.

I introduce mind-mapping in my first lesson with a class. I build a mind-map about myself by way of an introduction. All my pupils now know I hate dogs and banks, support Nottingham Forest, love physics and enjoy listening to Anton Bruckner and Rush. I then get pupils to create mind-maps about themselves, making sure they use colour and illustrations to aid the thought process and make the mind-map more memorable.

You can use their mind-mapping skills in future lessons by putting notes on a PowerPoint set to "loop" and asking them to organise the notes into a mind-map. It usually takes four or five repetitions to complete the maps. This is especially useful for fact-heavy topics such as rocks and radioactivity.

Websites such as Wikispaces for Teachers or Moodle also give pupils access to notes without them having to copy. I encourage pupils to download and edit the PowerPoints to create their own streamlined versions. The wikispace site is free and very easy to use: it took me a weekend to set up a wiki for all my classes - and it includes bonus information about Nottingham Forest.

Simon Porter teaches physics at the British School in Warsaw.


Try Simon Porter's "loop" presentation on rocks. And for inspiration on personalising worksheets, use his measuring speed example.

In the forums

Science teachers have been asked to submit photos of their summer holidays with a description of the science behind the image. Find out more about "Science in my Holidays" in the TES science forum.

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