3/4: Text is not Linear - Mindmaps and Outlines

One of the most important academic skills is to make the transition from seeing text as a string of words to understanding text as a structure of ideas. Mindmapping and Outlining are tools that can help to operationalise and teach this fundamental principle.

Academic Skill

Why this is important

Ed Tech skills


Representing the structure of ideas in a text

As long as students are trying to read each and every word in a text, rather than trying to find the ideas, they will struggle to understand, to make notes and to remember, all of which are fundamental academic skills.

Making a mindmap is a good way to get away from linear text.

  • Use keywords only.
  • Create a hierarchy of ideas (Main points link to supporting ideas)

Mindmup is a simple, effective mind mapping tool that integrates with Google Drive and Classroom. Why digital?

  • Working digitally allows flexibility - ideas can be incrementally organised, edited and formatted.
  • It can be used in GC to provide a template to scaffold thinking.


Having a clear outline structure for a text before trying to write

Students tend to write garbled ideas without having a clear idea of what they want to say. Each paragraph needs to be planned. Without this, their thinking is unclear and/or incomplete, and a reader will be confused.

Having an outline is a good way to plan each section and the paragraphs in it.

Use the outlining tools in Google Docs.

  • View the outline by clicking the “Show document outline” button.
  • Assign heading levels by changing Normal Text to Heading 1 or 2.

Bonus Tip: Doing this makes creating a Table of Contents very easy: Click where you want the ToC, then click Insert > Table of Contents

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