Inspiration

A Concept Mapping Tool 

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The Activity 

  Inspiration is a concept-mapping tool designed for teachers and students.  In this lesson, I have used Inspiration to create a map highlighting the 6 Native American tribes required by 4th grade Social Studies standards.  

 

 

 Here is a link to the lesson in Inspiration

The Reflection

I will use this Inspiration activity in a future class in a unit on Native Americans and early American history.  Many children, who have grown up in Georgia, know about the Cherokee Indians but are not aware of all the different tribes that settled in North America.  It is a fourth grade standard that children are familiar with the Native American tribes included in the map.  This map can be used both as a reference during discussion, as well as a review and study tool for a unit assessment.  Visual learners will especially benefit from this map because it not only includes the individual state shapes, but also images of the different tribes.  One can tell by the picture, that each tribe is different, and children will recognize these differences.  Each student will have an individual copy of this map, but it will also be discussed with the class.
    Many activities can be created with Inspiration.  For example, in a language arts class, students can create Venn diagrams to find commonalities in stories.  In science, it is easy to design diagrams that illustrate the cycles of different organisms.  A similar map could be made to pinpoint where immigrants settled once reaching America.
    The benefits to using concept maps for teaching and learning include the ability for students to create their own concept maps to keep track of what they have read or learn.  Another benefit is that concept mapping allows teachers to see how their students are thinking and can change future lessons to benefit their students.  The main barrier I think is the limitations to diagrams.  Not everything should necessarily  be turned into a concept map. 
    Inspiration is much quicker to use than pencil and paper.  With Inspiration (especially the Quick Fire option) teachers are able to list all student responses and ideas.  Also, if you a map a certain thing, and then decide it does not fit or is inaccurate it is very easy to change.  Plus, with Inspiration, you can jazz up your maps!
    I think Inspiration activities would be operating at the 2nd to 4th LoTi levels.  This is because the concept maps are content-based and will either be provided by the teacher or the student.
    I can see using Inspiration to organize information in order to find overarching ideas and themes.  It would also be helpful to organize thoughts and ideas before beginning a research paper.