Looking at using a web diagram for learning vocabulary

When first given this project I was a little concerned about how I was going to use Inspiration for an eighth grade English course. While looking at the program I felt it was more targeted towards younger students. However, after working with Inspiration, reviewing my LoTi, and looking at previous examples I have discovered that this is an excellent tool that I will most certainly use in the future.


Eighth grade Standards primarily focuses on improving vocabulary and reading books beyond the surface, such as character analysis and what the author’s intent was. That is exactly what I would use Inspiration for. Here is an example of what I created Inspiration.jpg. Each student could create a “map” for a vocabulary word which would include sentences using that word, synonyms, antonyms, and of course, the definition. As the teacher, I could then combine all the vocabulary words and make copies for everyone to study off of. Not only would the students be learning by visually looking at what other students had created, but by also doing it themselves. If the method proved to work, we could spend time making these vocabulary books before each test/quiz! 


Another way I would use this technology in my classroom is for book and character analysis. As the Standards point out, and I agree, developing writing skills is very important for eighth grade students. However, a monthly book report can get old very quickly. Perhaps instead students could use Inspiration to create the outlines for their papers, or even if they were thorough enough this could replace a paper. As a teacher I could use Inspiration before even beginning a book in class to capture the students attention and explain to them briefly what we were about to read.

The benefit of using concept mapping for teaching and learning I think primarily are for visual learners and understanding the skills to make an outline (which is defiantly needed in both high school and college). Mapping is just another way to get your thoughts organized and pieced together. This is incredibly beneficial to English students before beginning a paper. I was always told I need to turn an outline in when I submitted my papers. Because I never really understood how to make a good outline, I tended to write the paper first, then go back to make the outline (which defeats its entire purpose). Through Inspiration, students are learning to organize thoughts! Some barriers that teachers and students might face are time. Time is always an issue with any technology project. I still also think that at times Inspiration/Kidspiration is a little too childish for eighth grade and above. At first glance I felt like just drawing it out may be easier, but really it wouldn’t. Using the computer and looking through the graphics and researching vocabulary and books would generate so many more ideas than just sitting down and telling a class “here some markers and crayons draw what comes to mind.” I found so many pictures in clipart that they spawned new ideas that I could the branch off of. Using your imagination, especially in the upper grades, is something that is incredibly important to me and I think it should be done more often!



I think that each one of my projects would probably be a LoTi level of three. I do not think they are authentic enough to be a four. However, they do more than just researching; the students need to organize and apply the information they have gathered to create a map/diagram. I think anything higher than a three would be pushing it, however this would not count as a two, due to that fact that it is the students behind the computer creating, not the teacher. As I stated before, Inspiration is a great tool to use before writing a paper. It would allow me to organize my thoughts better, and maybe even generate more ideas through looking at the graphics I could use. For me, this would be very useful at a university setting.




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