Mind mapping, or concept mapping, is a very effective way to get your ideas organised. Let's work through how to produce a map. 1. Put the main topic in a box in the centre of the paper. This makes you concentrate on the question so you don't tackle irrelevant matters. 2. Think of ideas, words and phrases, methods of organising, examples, stories - in fact, whatever comes to mind might be useful. 3. As you write things down, you try to put them in their place on the map. Example This is the question we have been given. As a member of your school's student association committee, you are expected to give some assembly talks on general issues. The principal has noted the media is often commenting on weight problems faced by many young people nowadays. She asks you to talk to the junior formers about this. We put weight control in the box in the centre. Then we start thinking of ideas and words: we come up with diet, exercise, lifestyle, fast food, couch potato. We think of the reasons for staying slim. We remember over-eating can be a sign of unhappiness. We start putting our ideas on the map. Both diet and exercise are aspects of lifestyle. They are two parallel approaches to staying slim. We show this by our organisation of the map. We can put lifestyle under Weight Control, and then Diet and Exercise next to each other under that. The points we want to make about these topics can then be numbered below them. Couch potato belongs near Exercise. Reasons for staying slim are something different. We put them in a different place on the map. The point about unhappiness can be put near the end. We put it at the bottom of our map. Gradually the map takes shape and we know how to write our essay. A mind map diagram Exercise 1 Topic: Should smoking be banned in all public places? Write SMOKING BAN in the middle of your paper. We have brainstormed some words and ideas for you. Create a helpful writing map out of them. Jobs Passive smoking Right to clean air Legal activity Business objections Practical? Cigarette butts Freedom Smell Health Definition of public place? Hard to enforce Tourism Air already polluted Home problem made worse Smoke in eyes Addiction Make it a shameful habit Exercise 2 Topic: Schools should offer regular drama classes. Create a mind map of your own for this topic.