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Observation and Research on the Smarter Mind Education Lecture in Gao-Xin Third Elementary School in Baoji City

Hong-Lu Li, Director, Wuhan Smarter School District, Global TEAM Model

[Abstract] Education has never lacked advanced ideas, and only advanced technology can allow for the realization of educational ideas. The disciplinary mind map is used as a tool for learning. Its basic function is allow students to see key points, clarify the nature, understand the connection, find a method and further construct knowledge and form a structure through thinking visualization. As a visualization and intelligent tool for teaching and learning, TEAM Model also favors “seeing”: see and understand graphs to be in sync; see thinking to create change; see different views for diversified thinking; and see differences to teach in accordance with aptitude for smarter teaching and learning. The combination of the two technologies has allowed the seven smarter mind education lectures at Gao-Xin Elementary School in Baoji to present splendid lectures.

I. Advanced technology practices advanced ideas

Education has never lacked advanced ideas and theories, but it lacks the advanced technology for realizing the ideas.

Confucius proposed the idea of teaching in accordance with aptitude over two hundred and fifty years ago. Modern stratified teaching and differentiated teaching systems are nearly complete. However, in the class teaching system (particularly for large classes), if not for technology, these educational ideas that glisten with humanity would not be realized and would become set phrases for reflection and exchange among elementary and middle school teachers.

Bruner proposed the “cognitive structure” theory in 1960. He believed that the nature of learning was to form knowledge structures actively by using actions, icons and symbols to represent knowledge structures. Because there was no technology for students to “construct”, the insights on the teaching theory of “cognitive structure” can only be “written on paper” and become textbooks for college education. Professor Lan Ye’s “new basic education” also emphasized “teaching structure”. She proposed the idea of “long-term two-phased” teaching, which divided the knowledge teaching of a certain phase into two time periods of “teaching structure” and “usage structure”. The “long-term two-phased” “teaching structure and usage structure” made progress in the basis of Bruner’s “cognitive structure” theory, but because it lacked the support of technology, it could only be “written on paper” for citation and interpretation by later generations in publications.

One after one, the great minds of sages created educational ideas that surpassed their times. Because there was no supporting technology, their teaching theories often sank before the firm fortress of classroom. It makes one sigh and exclaim, “Good craftsmanship depends on use of the right tools”.

We are so lucky to be in an era where digital society is rich in technology. It was wise of the Gao-Xin Third Elementary School to apply TEAM Model Teaching Technology and disciplinary mind mapping for picking up Bruner’s “cognitive discovery” theory and constructing the “new discovery teaching method”. In the two days of presentation classes, we were glad to see that TEAM Model Educational Technology and disciplinary mind mapping technology were combined at the School and integrated in classes for realizing a number of ideas advocated by modern lecture and teaching and for letting people see the strength of technology in educational reformation.

The seven presentation lectures of the teachers, such as Lei Wang and Bo Liu, not only brought visual impact but also gave rise to thinking sensation: technology can be used in such a way; lectures can be combined like this; students can learn this way; lectures can be so phenomenal.

All is gone with faded prosperity. When I was looking out the hotel window at the Guanzhong Plain, the term “visualization” lingered in my mind; it gradually became clear in my head as I was looking out the car window at endless clouds and mists on my way home. It might be the focus point of disciplinary mind mapping and TEAM Model educational technology. Everything that we see in class is backed by the technology of “visualization”.

II. Disciplinary mind mapping: visualize thinking

Professor Zhuo-Yuan Liu used the shape of the Buzan mind map, removed the “free thinking”, combined the rules and characteristics of disciplinary teaching, proposed the concept of “disciplinary mind mapping” and developed it into a series of teaching strategies. In the seven presentation lectures of Gao-Xin Third Elementary School, two forms of disciplinary mind mapping were used to present each link of the teaching process.
  • Disciplinary mind mapping as a learning tool

When used as a tool for learning, disciplinary mind mapping is a cognitive tool for individual students. Its basic function is to construct knowledge through “key point proposal, relationship understanding and structure building” for forming knowledge structure. The process of knowledge construction consists of four links, i.e. proposal, link, aspect and formation. Take for example the “Tiny Matchbox” in the 6th Grade math class of Ms. Lei Wang, this class guides students in making disciplinary mind maps for knowledge construction through problem solving. The teaching process is as shown below:
  1. Propose a problem and carry out discussions for the answer

  2. Toss-up for answering and share strategies

  3. Vote for strategies and group by homogeneity
  4. Group investigation and work appreciation

  5. Organize the knowledge and create a map

As a learning tool, mind maps must guide students in four aspects to realize the visualization of thinking:
  1. Seeing the key points: this is the “key point proposal” referred to by Professor Zhuo-Yuan Liu; use the maps for extracting the key points of knowledge from a lecture or unit.
  2. Seeing the nature: this refers to generalizing specific knowledge and forming concepts for disclosing the nature of things.
  3. Understanding the association: this if the “relationship understanding” referred to by Professor Zhuo-Yuan Liu; comprehend the difference and relation between old and new knowledge, or the relation between new knowledge points, to form knowledge structures.
  4. Seeing the method: this refers to understanding the disciplinary thinking, method and value behind the knowledge, i.e. “core knowledge”, for developing students’ disciplinary literacy.
  • Disciplinary mind map as a learning achievement

As students’ individual learning results, disciplinary mind maps are media for group collaborative learning and collective teaching. According to teaching requirements, some mind maps of disciplinary teaching contents are created by students before class (during preparation or the first language reading lesson). Take for example the “Kingfisher” in Ms. Ya-Ping Ren’s 3rd Grade Language Class, the students had already completed the mind maps during the first lecture (or preparation before class), and the teacher organized an activity of “graph appreciation for revealing secrets” in the presentation lecture:
  1. Mind maps are exchanged in paired groups (groups consisting of two persons) and amended.
  2. Exchange within a four-person group.
  3. Vote for the best disciplinary mind map.

  4. The fourth group explains the disciplinary mind map of “Kingfisher”, and intergroup interactions and class teaching are carried out through reading out loud, content addition, viewpoint rebuttal, question challenging, reasonable suggestion and teacher explanation.

We can clearly see from the abovementioned activity that, as learning results, mind maps are media for students in the social construction of knowledge. Diversified class interaction is realized with the help of technology, further promoting in-depth learning.
  1. Revision: Exchange self-made disciplinary mind maps in pairs or groups, learn from each other’s strong points, and amend the maps.
  2. Sharing: The groups select the best map and upload (pushes) it onto the display screen, and the teacher pushes students’ works back to the tablets, so that each group can share the works of other groups and be inspired by their thinking.
  3. Preferred selection: The students use a voting device (IRS) to select the best map.
  4. Explanation: Display and illustrate the best map, and intergroup interactions and class teaching are carried out through reading out loud, content addition, viewpoint rebuttal, question challenging, reasonable suggestion and teacher explanation.
In summary, disciplinary mind maps exist in classes in two forms, and they have different teaching functions. As a learning tool, a mind map applies key point proposal, relationship understanding and construction for solving problems, so that students can see the key points, see the nature, understand the relation and see the method to further construct knowledge and form structures. As a learning achievement, a mind map is a medium for students in social construction of knowledge. With mind maps as media and under the support of information technology, multidimensional interactions are carried out in classes to facilitate in-depth learning.

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