Top reasons why you should incorporate the Inspiration app into your next lesson!
Inspiration is an app by Inspiration Software, Inc. The app provides a digital platform for students in grades 7-12 to brainstorm and organize ideas through mind mapping tools. Students can either create their own mind map or choose from the many pre-made templates in the app. I have recently share Inspiration app in the Cube for Teachers database under Tools and Technology as a Mind Mapping Tool.
- Pre-Writing. I highly recommend using Inspiration during the pre-writing stage when students are going to begin a writing task. This app speaks to the digital learner in the 21st century and provides an engaging platform for students to think critically, collaborate, and connect ideas. Below is an example that could be used in Language Arts or English to scaffold students into organizing their ideas for a Character Analysis. This app has many graphics and symbols to further represent their character. Some other mind maps include: Essay Brainstorm, Fiction Reading Notes, Plot Analysis, and Understanding Satire. Each template comes with a large selection of graphics and symbols to represent their ideas or make connections between them. They are very high quality and are images appropriate for older students. Students can further begin the pre-writing stage by creating their own custom mind map to brainstorm ideas.
- Cross-Curricular Connections. Inspiration does not just provide pre-made templates and graphics for Language Arts or English. The app further provides many pre-made templates for Science and History. These templates help students organize their reports for Science and History and further provide opportunities for cross-curricular connections to literacy learning. Many of the graphic organizers pre-made for Science and History are mind maps that foster the pre-writing stage. Of course, teachers do not necessarily have to always have students turn these mind maps into full blown reports. However, the option is there to not only teach and assess the content areas, but to further connect teaching and assessment to literacy learning. Another added feature to these Science and History mind maps is that they all have content specific graphics and symbols. As seen below in the Science screenshot, there are science graphics (i.e., beakers, funnels, gloves, etc.) that can be incorporated into the mind map to support visual learners and make mind mapping more engaging, fun, and interactive! A little further down you will see a History screenshot and some of the graphics to go along with the Ancient Civilizations mind map.
- Scaffolding. There are a couple ways Inspiration scaffolds students throughout the app. As shown below, the app prompts students as soon as they open one of the pre-made templates by providing some instructions (see screenshot below for an example of the instruction prompt). These instructions scaffold the student towards using the template appropriately and enhance self-directed learning. This could be especially helpful if a student is trying to find the best template to use for their specific assignment. Inspiration further scaffolds students by providing the option to turn their mind map into bullet points. After brainstorming ideas, students can then convert the mind map into easy to read bullet points that then scaffold them onto the next stage of the writing process. Students can use the bullet points to begin drafting their story, report, or other writing task.
History Example with Prompt
- Organization. Not only does Inspiration provide useful tools to organize curriculum-based writing assignments, but it further provides general organizers. The first screenshot below shows the Group Project Plan template. I can actually see this being useful for myself during some of my graduate studies courses! This is a great template to support collaboration and to make sure that everyone in a group is on task and contributing equally to the project. This template could definitely be referred to when reporting on Learning Skills on students' report cards! The second screenshot depicts one of the more general graphic organizers. There are a couple organizers that are not curriculum specific, but could be used across the disciplines. Some of these include pre-made templates for: 5Ws Strategy, Cause & Effect, Lecture Notes, or Textbook Chapter Notes. All of these mind maps will enhance students organization and self-directed learning. The Inspiration map makes the organizational process simplified for educators to teach and for students to learn through the pre-made templates, which can be adjusted if need be!
- Assessment. Inspiration is generally a great way to capture student work since it is very simple to send or share their work via email or Dropbox. Students can have their teacher assess their work formatively and provide feedback on their brainstorming before moving on to drafting their writing piece. Students can further share their work easily with other students to receive peer feedback on their initial brainstorming ideas. One really cool template I found within the Inspiration app is the KWHL chart. Teachers could essentially use this template after any lesson in any subject to get a sense as to what students already know, want to know, how they learned, and what they learned. KWHL charts are a very popular way to formatively assess students and provide direction for teachers on where to take their lesson next. Inspiration provides an engaging platform for students to simply fill this chart out and send it instantly to the teacher!
- Differentiation. Inspiration differentiates throughout the app by providing multiple templates for students to choose from and by proving multi-modal features to support unique learning needs. Some of these features include the graphics or symbols students can incorporate into their mind maps depending on if they make connections and represent their ideas easier this way. The app further has the option to add audio recordings, which may support students who struggle to form their thoughts in written form. The audio feature would allow students to elaborate a bit more off of their mind map and demonstrate more depth to their thinking and communicating of ideas. Another way to differentiate assessment would be through the Kidspiration app, which was created by the same developer. If you have students working below grade level and who need a more simplified app for mind mapping, I suggest using Kispiration. The app looks generally very similar and also provides many pre-made templates ready to go. For instance, if you are working on Character Analysis, there is a simplified Character Analysis template on Kidspiration. Between these two apps, I truly believe it is possible to reach differentiation for many subject areas and support a wider range of learning needs in your classroom. Please check out my full review of the Kidspiration app by clicking the app icon below!
Overall, I 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 Inspiration website.