Top reasons I suggest incorporating Kidspiration into your next lesson!
Kidspiration is an app by Inspiration Software, Inc. It is an app that is more simplified and geared towards Kindergarten to grade 6 students. I have recently shared the Kidspiration app under Tools and Technology as a Mind Mapping Tool in the Cube for Teachers database.
- Pre-Writing. I believe one of the best features about Kidspiration is its ability to support the stages of writing. Specifically, Kidspiration does an excellent job of providing pre-made templates for students to begin thinking, creating, and imagining their next big story! Students can either click into the Reading & Writing link to use any of the pre-made mind maps or they can click on the Create Diagram link to design their own pre-writing mind map. Some of the pre-made mind maps include Character Analysis, Character Descritpion, Compare and Contrast Books, or Story Webs (see screenshot below). Students can use any number of these mind maps to kick off their pre-writing and to support their creative and critical thinking skills. In order to create a mind map, students are critically thinking, making connections, and often researching to find the ideas for the map. Kidspiration provides a digital platform for students to begin working on these higher order thinking skills. Furthermore, Kidspiration speaks to the visual learner through pre-made graphics and other symbols. Students can customize any of the pre-made templates to add these images or change the way one of the diagrams looks. It is very self-directed and individualized, which is a key characteristic of 21st century technology!
- Word Work. Not only does Kidspiration enhance 21st century literacies such as critical thinking, it further provides many pre-made interactive activities that focus on traditional literacy skills. I can see a lot of these activities being a great addition to your next Daily 5 Literacy Rotation centres! Some of these word fun activities include Colour Sort and Spell, Making Compound Words, Beginning Sounds, Ending Sounds, and Alphabetical Order. It is also really easy to create your own sorting or matching activity by clicking the Create SuperGrouper image on the homepage. Kidspiration has a whole library of symbols, boxes, backgrounds, etc. for you to choose from that meet the needs of your mini word work lesson.
The following image shows an example of how Kidpiration could be used for pre-writing purposes. The one student I am currently working with has decided to write about elephants. I first had my student use the Understanding an Animal template under Science to fill in all the information about elephants retrieved from books and online resources. This is a work in progress, but you can already see how the template has provided some scaffolding to lead this student towards the most important information regarding elephants. These categories can then be used as separate paragraphs when the student writes a full report.
- Cross-Curricular Connections. My favourite feature about Kidspiration is how it is designed to support multiple subjects and cross-curricularily connect content areas with literacy. Below are screenshots of some examples in the Science, Social Studies, and Math pre-made template libraries. Some of these activities are sorting and classifying while others are mind maps that would scaffold a student during the pre-writing stage. As mentioned above, I had my student use the Understanding an Animal template to organize important points about elephants before drafting a report. This template was taken from the Science section. I believe the Civilization Project mind map would be a great starting point for any student or group of students when studying a particular civilizations (i.e., Ancient Greece or Ancient Egypt). It would definitely be a natural way to incorporate 21st century technology into the unit and revamp the way Ancient Civilizations are traditionally taught!
- Speaks to the Digital Learner. Below is an example of some of the Math pre-made templates in Kidspiration. I believe Kidspiration does an excellent job speaking to the digital learner and creating an app that takes full advantage of the multi-modal technology the iPad has to offer. Instead of just a mind mapping tool, Kidspiration incorporates digital interaction of sliding and touching to sort and classify ideas. Students use movable manipulatives in math to solve different problems. These digital manipulatives can further be used to create your own lesson! Kidspiration also has the feature of voice recording for students to add ideas and explain their thinking. Students can either use the symbols to represent their ideas and then voice record their explanation for each symbol, or they could use the voice recording as a way to simply elaborate off of a written point within a mind map. It all depends on the learner and whether or not they choose to differentiate their writing this way. At least the option is there!
- Built-in Scaffolds. Whenever a student opens a new pre-made template, Kidspiration provides a small prompt explaining how to use the template. For instance, as shown below, if a student opens up the Food Chain digram, the app immediately provides instructions on how to use the template. This can also support educators by explaining how this template could be used in a lesson. The only suggestion I would make for this feature is that the instruction have an audio "Read to Me" option. Since this app is geared towards primary and junior grades, many students in this grade range are still learning to fluently and accurately read. The instructions may be too difficult for them to read on their own. A "Read to Me" option would support differentiation within the app for students in the same grade working at different reading levels. I also noticed that Kidspiration scaffolds students into the drafting stage of the writing process. The second image below shows how one of the pre-made mind maps, once completed, can be switched into bullet point form. This may be an easier way for students to visualize their themes about a topic and scaffold them into the second stage of drafting their writing.
- Assessment. One great feature about Kidspiration is its ability to share students' work outside of the app. I can see this feature being very useful for assessment purposes. Students can email their work to the teacher or even upload it to Dropbox. Not only then can the teacher see students' work, but this may support sharing with other students. Students could peer assess each others' work and provide feedback to one another. The simplicity of Kidspiration's ability to share work and collaborate with one another is another feature that supports 21st century learning!
- Differentiation. Overall, Kidspriation provides simple yet effective ways to differentiate instruction. Whether this is through audio recording ones voice instead of typing or depicting ideas through symbols instead of words, Kidspiration offers unique ways for students to demonstrate their thinking and understanding of a topic. Another way this app can be differentiated is by downloading the more advanced and mature version of this app called Inspiration. I would recommend using Kidspiration for primary and junior grades (K-6). However, if you have students who need an extra challenge and more advanced platform, Inspiration provides more challenging pre-made templates. The great thing about Inspiration is that it still does incorporates the multi-modal features as Kidspiration. Students can still incorporate different graphics to depict their thinking and understanding about a topic. Please check out my full review of the Inspiration app by clicking the app icon below!
I truly believe Kidspiration has the potential to support 21st century skills such as self-directed learning, critical thinking, communicating, and collaborating. I highly recommend using this app in your next lesson, and I suggest trying to use it to enhance cross-curricular connections between subject matter! Click the icon below to check out the Kidspiration website.