Inspiration

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My Inspiration diagram relates to middle school math.  One of the content areas is multiplying and dividing fractions.  Therefore, I decided to create a flow chart showing the steps in each process.  I later found something similar where a teacher had shown the addition of fractions in this way, but mine is different because it shows two similar concepts on the same diagram.  I wanted the students to be able to compare the two processes because they are so similar.  Please view my Inspiration diagram.

 

 

I will use this activity in my classroom to introduce the topics of multiplying and dividing fractions.  The chart shows the steps in each process and then works through an example.  The chart is set up the same on each side, so the students can see how the two processes are similar.  I will probably begin the new topic by showing this chart to the entire class at the beginning of class.  Every student will see it and I will walk them through the examples given.  I then would have students divide into small groups of two or three and have them develop their own examples using the chart.  They would have to create their own flow chart on paper.  Once they had done this, if we had access to computers for students to use, I would let them create an example of each topic using Inspiration.  They could then share these with the entire class in the next few days.  This would be a great way for students to learn a topic, interact with a group in order to make sure they understand a topic, and then use technology to show their understanding.  They would be teaching others while they present their flow charts to the class.  I could develop many other charts to show steps in many math processes.  Almost any topic that I introduced could be broken down into a flow chart so that the students understand the process involved.  I might could create some blank charts as a way to review for the test and even use an outline of the chart as part of the test.  The students should be able to visualize the correct steps based on seeing them in class and creating their own examples.  One benefit of concept mapping for teaching is that it makes explaining steps easy.  Teachers are able to lay out the steps in a process in a fun way.  Another benefit is that teachers are able to easily develop maps during class as an interactive activity.  Students can call out ideas and actually see the ideas form a bigger picture.  This helps teachers because students are more interested since they are involved in the learning process.  Teachers can use concept mapping in many subjects and at many grade levels.  It can be used as a fun example or a serious one.  One benefit of concept mapping for students is that it gives them a visual of a process.  Later, they might be able to see in their mind the steps of a process that they saw on a concept map.  This could help on tests or homework.  Another benefit for students is that it gives them a chance to participate.  They can either call out ideas in class, do examples based on the map that the teacher presented, or create their own maps.  If they create their own concept map about a topic, they could then present the map to the entire class.  This not only teaches them a topic, it serves as a way for other students to learn.  The only barrier to concept mapping is that the technology might not be available in all schools.  Students would have limited access to such things outside of school too.  This would be alright as long as the students learn the topic and not just to rely on the map.  Concept mapping is better than using pencil and pen because it allows for the same process and examples to be shown several times.  A teacher might want to use concept mapping to introduce a topic, show examples, have students work examples during class using the map, review with the map, and then use the map as part of the test.  Pencil and paper would make all of this harder because it would be harder for multiple people to see it at the same time.  It is also more fun and interesting than using pencil and paper.  It would get the attention of the students more because it is brighter and more interesting to look at. 

My example is probably a LoTi level 3.  The students can use the technology to create their own concept maps and can teach topics to the class that are similar to the one I did.  However, they aren't creating topics or gathering data.  They are just using technology to show their understanding of a topic.  I think that most concept mapping is a LoTi level 3.  Students are involved in the learning process and are using the technology.  High school students could use concept mapping at a LoTi level 4 or 5 because they could create a project from start to finish and use concept mapping to brainstorm, gather data, and analyze data.  Middle school students probably wouldn't use concept mapping to this degree. 

I could use concept mapping as a study tool at UGA.  I could create maps to help me organize my notes about several topics before I started studying.  I could also use concept maps in order to brainstorm before writing a paper.  This use would probably be the one I used the most.  I always need help organizing my thoughts before I actually start writing a paper, so I think I will give concept mapping a try next time.