Google Drawing for thinking maps

Google drawings is a free diagramming software. It has a variety of tools to create diagrams and images. Some of the tools include circles, rectangles, and lines. There are many other tools in the app, but these are the ones best suited for creating thinking maps. Lines and shapes connect ideas in mind maps.

Google Drawings for thinking maps has many benefits. Students collaborate online. Finished products are publishable on the web. Projects are downloadable as images or PDF documents.

I like to include technology skills integration whenever possible. Google Drawings supports the inclusion of technology skills with thinking maps. Skills learned from creating thinking maps are applicable to other products. They are the foundation for working in applications like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. 

What is a thinking map?

Thinking maps are graphic organizers. They provide a common visual language for communication and collaboration. They are visual tools to inspire lifelong learning. Students become better thinkers, problem solvers, and decision makers. There are eight different types of thinking maps. Each map links to a specific cognitive process. 

Students learn about the thinking process through various graphic organizers. Thinking maps are applicable across grade levels, content, and discipline. Students showcase their thought process through words and diagrams. With technology students are able to include audio and video. 

With thinking maps, students think about the thinking process. This leads to higher level thinking and problem-solving. Students present their thinking maps to others and engage in discussions. This promotes social learning, which creates a learning community. 

Thinking maps help when scaffolding instruction. Scaffolding is a process that helps students learn complex concepts. Students draw on prior knowledge and construct new knowledge over time. They reflect on learning while exchanging ideas with others. 

The Eight Thinking Maps

The circle thinking map is a circle within a circle. The inner circle contains the central idea. We write the definitions outside the inner circle and inside the outer circle. Students use circle maps to define characters in stories. In science, they use it to define the characteristics of a concept like magnetism. Circle maps are a good way to introduce students to set theory in mathematics. 

Bubble maps use adjectives to describe. A center circle has the main topic. We write adjectives that describe the topic in circles around the main topic. All the circles with adjectives connect to the main topic with lines. The lines are there to reinforce their relationship to the topic. It is a great tool for teaching adjectives too. 

Double bubble maps compare and contrast. This map is like the bubble map. We begin with two ideas, for example, lions and tigers. We write the word lion in one circle and the word tiger in another. Other circles around these two describe one but not the other. We place the circles to the left or right of the topic but on the opposite side of the other topic. This placement strengthens the differences or the contrast. Lines connect the description with the topics. We place shared characteristics between the topics and lines connect to both.

Tree thinking maps diagram main ideas, supporting ideas and details. We place the main idea at the top. Rectangles are sometimes drawn around the words. We write supporting ideas in a row below the main idea. Below each idea we write supporting details. Lines connect the main idea to supporting ideas. Tree maps are very versatile. We use them in writing, developing timelines, outlining websites, and to organize facts. Tree maps emphasize divergent thinking. 

Sequencing flow maps focus on steps or stages. Write the first step as a sentence and draw a rectangle around it. Write more steps and place them in rectangles. Draw an arrow from the first to the second and from the second to the next. Use sequencing maps for storytelling, creating timelines, and describing a process. Students learn to identify patterns. They analyze patterns and make predictions. 

Multi-flow maps teach cause and effect relationships. We write events inside rectangles. We write causes to the event on the left side of the event. We then right the effects of the event on the right side of the event. Lines connect the causes of the event and the event to the effects. Students learn to analyze cause and effect relationships. They also learn to make predictions using available information. 

Brace maps identify parts of a whole. We write the object word and draw a brace to the right. On the right side of the brace we write two or more words about the object. We can draw more braces to the right of the words in the first brace. Brace maps are very useful when teaching students about systems. They also learn how to deconstruct things and ideas.

Bridge maps help students make connections between related ideas. We map analogies and metaphors which are then written in sentences. A bridge map begins with two horizontal lines connected by a triangle. We write analogies above and below each line. Within the triangle we write the word, AS. Here is a simple example. Write word snow above the first line and the word cold below. On the other line, write the word fire above the line and the word hot below. We read the analogy like this. Snow is to cold as fire is to hot. Bridge maps include a relating factor. This ties the analogies into a sentence. For example, the relating factor is "feels". Snow feels cold as fire feels hot. 

Using Google Drawings in the classroom 

Begin with paper and pencil. Part of the thinking process begins here. The mind and hand connection is important. Paper and pencil helps students see the growth of their thinking process. Ideas written digitally can be easily deleted and gone forever. I’ve seen great ideas from students lost forever to a digital vacuum. My students keep notebooks and they are not allowed to tear out pages. They start on a new page when they make a mistake. They refer to ideas they wrote on the previous page. They often change what they wrote with something better. 

Once it is firm on paper then we go and replicate it in the digital world. 

In the April 1, 2018 issue of Digital Maestro Magazine, I explore Google Drawings to create thinking maps