I have recently shared the following apps in the Cube for Teachers database under Tools and Technology as Mind Mapping Tools.
Corkulous is where your traditional bulletin board meets the digital world! This virtual bulletin board makes a great digital brainstorming environment for students to throw around ideas, make connections between information, and classify points. Some of the app features include sticky notes, cue cards, label arrows, checklist templates, and more! Students are also able to upload photos to help support their brainstorming ideas and spark inspiration. Corkulous in general is super fun and engaging for students to use. All of the sticky notes and labels can be changed colours to colour code and practice organizational skills. Below is a screenshot of one of my students' work using the app to brainstorm predictions about what a book may be about. I used the cue cards to pose the questions, and then my student surrounded the questions with predictions on sticky notes regarding what they think will happen in the story and what they think the moral or lesson of the story may be. Throughout the story, I had my student revisit the Corkulous app to answer whether or not the predictions were confirmed or need revision. The student then formed a new mind map throughout the book discussing what actually happened and what they now believe the moral of the story is. My student at the end of this lesson actually commented by saying "that was really fun!" This was a huge breakthrough since my student struggles to focus and stay engaged enough to write with pencil and paper. I highly recommend using Corkulous as a platform to brainstorm and even begin pre-writing for a story or report. Students provide the same rich ideas through Corkulous as they would on a paper mind map template, but instead, they are engaged more naturally while using the app. Corkulous will hopefully also provide a smoother transition into the drafting stage of writing.
Popplet is another wonderful mind mapping app for students to brainstorm ideas on potential topics or to demonstrate what they have learned. I believe the most important feature of Popplet is its ability to have students collaborate within the same network. Much like the app, MindMeister, discussed above, students can share their ideas by making comments, uploading pictures, and connecting information. Popplet essentially demonstrates the ability digital-touch based technologies have to enhance students' use of 21st century skills such as collaborating and critical thinking. Collaboration is achieved through students' ability to work within the same digital network on the same file. Critical thinking is enhanced through Popplet's interactive multi-modal features that support students' ability to demonstrate making connections, inferring, predicting, or organizing their thinking and communicating. Please see the example below of how Popplet can be used for students' to organize facts about a particular topic. This screenshot example demonstrates the pre-writing stage and how it can then scaffold students into drafting a Science report on planet Earth.
Stickyboard if a very simple yet effective app to ignite inspiration and creativity during the pre-writing stage. Much like Corkulous, students are able to use sticky notes to write their ideas and begin to make connections about a topic. One of the unique features about Stickyboard is its dual function as a white board! Students can then organize their sticky notes through connecting lines, diagrams, columns, or through arrows. Students can essentially create any template they want to help organize their sticky notes and begin to think critically about how their ideas connect and what they mean in relation to the topic under discussion.
Kidspiration & Inspiration
Kidspiration and Inspiration are two mind mapping apps created by the same developer, Inspiration Software, Inc. Kidspiration is a mind mapping app for younger students (I recommend Kindergarten to Grade 6), and Inspiration supports students usually in any grade above the primary and junior levels. These apps not only allow students to begin pre-writing through mind-maps, but they further provide many pre-made mind mapping templates in Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Math. Inspiration also provides templates to support older students' learning and organizational needs. Within the templates, both apps have graphic libraries for students to represent their ideas through pictures and other symbols. These two apps come with my highest recommendation! I have actually written two separate blog posts for each app so please read the full review of Kidspiration by clicking the blue icon above on the left, and read the full review of Inspiration by clicking the green icon above on the right!
Furthermore, click any of the app icons above to check out the apps on iTunes or the apps' webpages! Please consider incorporating any of my top six picks for pre-writng apps into your next lesson!