Channel brainstorming ideas into thoughts that flow
How can we help students organize their thoughts and write? Two great programs provide a fun way for students to go from brainstorming to final written work: Inspiration and Kidspiration. I’ve used both programs with both students and adults, and I love how easy brainstorming and categorizing ideas can be. It is a great tool to integrate and improve instruction for students.
Inspiration is designed for secondary students. Students brainstorm ideas, record, and then organize them, using the various tools on the screen. They can arrange the ideas by moving shapes around the screen and connecting them with links. Fonts and colors can be changed to suit your fancy.
Think about how you could use this tool with your students. For example, when you use the RapidFire feature, it allows you to type an idea, type Enter on the keyboard, and open up another shape for the next idea. You don’t have to go back to the Symbols palette to grab a new shape. I like using this feature when I’m working with a group of students or adults. I can type quickly while they shout out their ideas, and then easily create categories. This feature can be done whole group or in small groups using computers or tablets.
After students exhaust their brainstorming and recording, select the Outline view. The brainstorming turns into an outline, ready for writing and reviewing the material.
Kidspiration is the elementary version, and it has similar features to Inspiration. Here’s an example of how to use the program with content. Students are identifying the positive and negative effects of Christopher Columbus’ journey and landing in the Americas.
The Outline View turns the brainstorming into a fillable writing format, shown below. Students can use the brainstorm phrases to create their sentences, including main ideas and details. Inspiration does not have the fillable format. This program is great for elementary students, but it can also be used as a scaffolding tool for struggling secondary students.
Students can add audio or video to their maps as well. Diagrams can be exported as graphics or editable Word documents. Another feature in Kidspiration is the Listen option; when chosen in the Diagram view, it activates a text-to-speech function. This option is great for struggling readers and English-language learners.
Templates are included for many common critical thinking tasks, and applications are provided for all content areas. One example is Experiment Analysis in the Science templates; the template is shown below. Notice directions are included for how to use the template.To access the templates, you can choose templates from the opening screen, or you can select File>Open Template in an existing file. The program is also accessible through an app for the iPad. Free trials are available for both the desktop and app versions of the software.
There are great ideas on the Inspiration website that I enjoy using. Teachers post ideas from their own classes. How would you use Inspiration or Kidspiration with your students? What ideas, suggestions, or questions do you have about this tool and its classroom uses? Be inspired!