Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Using Technology for Thinking and Planning.
According to the new curriculum framework in my state, students need to be provided with opportunities to recognise ICT as a creative tool for recording their planning, thinking and learning. This is one area of ICT that I seem to have neglected so far in my teaching. Because of this, it is an area that I have been looking into a little more in recent weeks.

I have been using Kidspiration with my class to create graphic organisers to structure our thinking. Last week we used it to brainstorm writing ideas for a book we read as a class. This week we used it to create a cause and effect diagram based on the beginning chapter of Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda. I am still becoming familiar with this program for myself, so my students are getting to see me problem solve out loud. (Hopefully they are learning from this!) Something I really like about Kidspiration is its flexibility. You create the mind map to suit the information you're trying to map. While it might be nice to have a straight-forward, sequential cause and effect diagram, it may not really suit the situation. Sometimes an idea will have multiple off-shoots that may reconnect further on (as we found with Rowan of Rin). Kidspiration allows for non-conventional thinking and planning.
Unfortunately, Kidspiration is not free and the price gets pretty hefty with multiple licences. The same goes for its older sibling, Inspiration. Recently Webspiration was added to the family for use with online thinking and planning. Webspiration is in its beta phase and is currently being offered free.

I found some other more prescriptive online thinking tools at ReadWriteThink and printable PDF graphic organisers at Tools for Reading Writing & Thinking. For a huge list of other Web 2.0 Graphic Organiser Tools, see Cool Tools For Schools. I look forward to working my way through these tools in the next year.

And now to you. What have you found useful for helping students to "recognise ICT as a creative tool for recording their planning, thinking and learning"?


  1. Thank you for the ReadWriteThink website. Great tool for social studies and language arts.

  2. Bubbl.us is another free site you can use like Inspiration. It is pretty easy to use. I have to be honest, though. I find these types of tools pretty useless. I can fairly easily create a graphic organizer using paper and pencil more quickly than I can using one of these programs. I also find myself spending a lot of time formatting in the software (a problem my students have as well.)

    On the other hand, it does make a very nice piece for presentation purposes, and it can take the sting out of doing pre-writing activities with students.


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