The Inspiration activity that I created is designed to help beginning Spanish students learn the basic forms of verb conjugation in order to understand how it works. The activity includes a diagram of the three different kinds of verbs in Spanish, and then there is a place by each bubble for students to take notes. Each note space is designed for students to write down examples of the different verbs that are discussed during the activity and for them to conjugate verbs on their own.
I would use this activity in an introduction to Spanish verbs unit so that students could understand how to form different kinds of sentences. For example, the students could see why the verb changes from when they're talking about themselves, to when they are talking about a person standing on the sidewalk. The diagram allows students to have the opportunity to look at a verb and determine which category it falls into: either it ends in an -er, -ir, or an -ar. And then they can determine how it would be conjugated: either first person, second person, third person singular, first person plural, or third person plural. After they follow the diagram through each of the first two steps, they can use the note boxes to conjugate the verb correctly using the endings that are provided. In this way, the students can create a list of conjugated verbs that they can refer back to in the future. As new verbs are learned in class, their list will grow longer and their vocabulary will increase.
This is an activity that would be very good for visual and sequential learners. Visual learners would be able to see how and why a verb would be conjugated a certain way, and sequential learners could see the steps that go into the conjugation process. Students would learn best from this activity if they were working individually because they could create their own list of conjugated verbs to remember. Conjugation is one part of the Spanish language that does not need as much verbal practice as it does memorization of the different formulas and irregular verbs. Working individually would allow for this memorization more than would group work.
One of the other curriculum standards for beginning Spanish is that the students learn to communicate information about themselves. This is a very good way for them to begin their conversational skills, and the Inspiration/Kidspiration program can help them accomplish this. The students can create a diagram in either Inspiration or Kidspiration with different characteristics about themselves. There could be different individual diagrams or maps set up for different categories such as: personality traits, favorites, and family. Or the students could create one big map with themselves in the center of it. Either way the students would be able to use the new vocabulary that they have learned in order to descibe themselves. This activity would give the students more practice with what they have learned and be able to apply it in more ways that just conversation with classmates.
Using the Inspiration program to teach Spanish is beneficial becase is gives students the opportunity to use what they have learned in a different way than before. Studies show that the more ways a person learns something, the better learned that piece of knowledge is. Using concept mapping allows students to visually see the vocabulary and the different verb forms they have learned in class in a new way. Rather than simply using what they have learned in conversation and on paper, they can see how it all connects in a bigger picture.
One drawback of using Inspiration in the classroom as opposed to pencil and paper would be that this is not something that children could take home with them to work on. Most home computers, if the students are fortunate enough to have one, do not have this kind of software. Since they would not be able to bring the assignment home with them, a lot of classtime would be taken up with individual work on Inspiration assignments. Using the program, however, the teacher could be more confident that the students are actually mapping out the concepts correctly since the arrows and bubbles can be so easily connected and created. If students were just using pencil and paper, they might not be able to figure out the best way to organize their work. With the help of the Inspiration program they could be sure to have enough room for their bubbles and be able to add and subtract information easily from their concept map.
I believe that using the Inspiration or Kidspiration program achieves a LoTi level of 3. Students are simply using technology to do for them what they could do on their own using pencil and paper. The technology of the program makes concept maps easier to read, faster to create, and in doing so, the students might remember the process better. The use of the technology, however, does not help the students analyze or problem solve much better than they could if they simply did the maps on paper. The program simply makes the process easier and more memorable. Hopefully, the maps that the students make using Inspiration would be something they could keep with them for future reference, as opposed to the maps they might throw away if they were made by hand.
I personally would not use Inspiration on a regular basis as a student here at the University because I do not use a lot of concept maps to study for my classes. I do see the benefit of using them to make connections between ideas. If I were in a history or English class, I can see using them to learn the causes of certain events or about the characteristics of a certain author's writing. The different colors and mapping would make the information more memorable, and in this way I see how it would be beneficial to me as a student. Concept mapping is not typically a method that I use to study, but maybe after this introduction to Inspiration it will be an avenue I can explore more in the future.