Posts Tagged inspiration

Idea #4 – Concept Mapping with Inspiration

Want to increase brain activity in your students,  encourage active comprehension and step-up dynamic discussions in the classroom?  It all can be done with one simple activity of concept mapping.

Today’s idea uses  the software Inspiration 8 (installed on all teacher machines on campus) and your projector.  The document camera can also be incorporated as student’s share the maps they have created.

Why use Inspiration?

  1. It’s easy and already loaded on all teacher machines on campus.
  2. Inspiration provides pre-made templates to get the concept map going for the big screen (choose New – From Template to see the options)
  3. Keeps the map organized and easy to read for the class.
  4. Circles can be changed to clip art for more of a visual impact.
  5. Brainstorming is easy with the lightening bolt icon.
  6. Maps and ideas can be easily rearranged without starting over.
  7. Finished products can be saved as Word files and placed online for those who missed the class.

Ideas on How to Use Concept Mapping in the Classroom:

As a reading strategy:

1. Pre-reading:  have students brainstorm what they know about the items listed on the skelton concept map.  Add those ideas in and have students record on their own papers.

2. During Reading – Students then read the assigned passage and add in more details as they learn them.

3. Post reading – Compare maps with the class and add in details students might have missed.  (Use the document camera to show student’s original maps.)


    • Sub-topics can be recorded on note-cards and students can add in more details about that topic as they read/learn more
    • Cards can then be turned into a paragraphs within a research paper.
    • Each sub-topic could become a research topic for the class.

As a note-taking strategy:

  1. Give students a partially filled concept map and have them add to it as you discuss, research, etc. the topic given.
  2. Have students create their own map of the story/event with main characters/main events in ech sub-circle and details surrounding from there.

Getting Started:

Download a how-to guide for Inspiration 8:  How to Use Inspiration 8

Watch a quick tutorial on the software here:

Documentation and research on using concept mapping in the classroom is based from “Classroom Instruction that Works” by Robert Marzano and Project Criss.

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Getting a New Perspective on the Written Word

October is Computer Learning Month

I had a dream last night that got me thinking about “perspective”  and how to give students different perspectives on what is being taught.  Our students are what some call “digital natives” and are wired differently than students of the past.  Think of all the ways they can get and send information in a moment’s notice.  So how can we tap into that part of their thinking and get them thinking about school and the subjects being presented from a different perspective?  How can we start to speak their  digital language?

With this thought in mind I bring you this post: Perspectives in Writing and Reading

So often as a history teacher I would present textbook reading as here it is and answer the questions at the end.  As I began to understand the importance of engaging students before, during and after reading, I used questions, discussions, paper and pencil, drawing, etc. to help get the students to see the information in a different way.

With technology I am amazed at what the other options can be!

To demonstrate some of the ways that a reading passage (fiction or non-fiction) could be presented using technology, I took the school’s weekly newsletter and ran it through several options.  These activities could be used as pre-reading hooks or as a post-reading assignment for the students.


The first is a web site called “Wordle.”  Wordle takes text and makes a word cloud out of it.  The more a word is mentioned, the larger it appears.  Think of it as a tag cloud for your reading.

Students could also upload their own writing and see what words they are using the most and how their writing is coming across.  For a list of ideas on this, please see the Tech Ed Know blog.


I used Inspiration 8 to create a web of the information as well:

Blurbs in Inspiration


Pictures are another great way to tell a story.  I took the same key words, found pictures to illustrate those words from flickr and made a short movie using photo story.


For Ridgeview Teachers: Here are a few wordles that come from history or literature.  If you are able to identify what text they come from and leave your guess as a comment to this blog, a prize will be awarded.   There will be a prize per entry, so you don’t have to know them all, just guess on one!  Click on the picture to see a larger image.

Entry 1:

Entry 2:

Entry 3:

Entry 4:

Ideas?  thoughts?  Suggestions?  Please share in the comments section.

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