After a brief hiatus from PrattleNog, I am back to share the most recent lesson that my toddler Mac has taught me about adult learning: We often need to select the right tools to help us learn.
Mac has discovered the importance of a box full of learning tools — the tape measure helps him determine how long or wide something is; the wrench helps him know if something is secured tightly; and the hammer? Well, as Mac warns us every time he picks up his little toy hammer, “I’m going to be a little loud now.” I like to believe that somewhere in there the hammer is helping him learn about force (for better or worse, though nothing has been broken . . . yet).
One learning tool that we suggest to our PLA students is the Mind Map. Mind Maps help you organize your ideas visually and map them out, which can then help you figure out how to organize them in writing or for a presentation — or just organize them in your own head!
I think ideas floating around in our heads are often like a bunch of jumbled clothes in a basket of laundry; you have to sort them to make sense of what is there and how they work together (or don’t!). In PLA, students use Mind Maps to brainstorm their existing knowledge about a topic to get an organized inventory of what they know and to determine how to structure an essay accordingly.
Mind Maps — and other kinds of learning tools — can help us sort, organize, and identify what we’re learning. They can help us articulate our knowledge and experience to others. Like Mac’s wrench, they can help us ensure that an idea we’re trying to convey to ourselves or others is secured tightly. And, like Mac’s hammer, they may help us articulate these ideas with “force.”
So think about this: What are the learning tools in your toolbox?
Previous installments of What My Toddler Has Taught Me About Adult Learning: