Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Graphic Organizer Queen - Mind Mapping Evaluations

As a special education teacher I am always looking for new ways to brainstorm and organize information for all of the students in my class. This is how I earned my title as the Graphic Organizer Queen in the South Paris Collaborative. I believe that learning how to brainstorm and map out information helps all students to make connections and scaffold on prior learning. It was because of my passion for graphic organizers that I welcomed the opportunity to evaluate some offline and online mapping tools.

The first program I didn't truly evaluate was Inspiration. "Why didn't you evaluate it?" you ask. I didn't evaluate it because it is a program that I already use at school with my students. It is mapping program that is student and teacher friendly. The students are comfortable with the program because it is taught in our computer classes and it is readily accessible on all of our school desktops and laptops at school for in-class use. There are no login issues, the clipart is grade school appropriate and the skill of mapping within the program is easy.

While I enjoyed playing with the remainder of online applications, I did not find them appropriate substitutes for the elementary students that I work with. First of all, you need an e-mail address and login skills to access these programs. Another issue was that some of the programs required a flash download or upgrade. Lastly, these programs are free, so some sites automatically made your brainstorming available for public viewing, others gave you limited access to all of the functions, and many only provided you with a few free organizers until you decide to pay for their services.

I did, however, find these online mind-mapping sites an interesting way to collaborate with my grown-up peers. My favorite online mapping tool was Mindomo. The site was professional looking, my brainstorming ideas were easily filed and the icons for creating a mindmap were very user-friendly. Despite these perks, I was sad to discover that I was not able to edit the document in real time at the same time as my TEAM team. Looking at the upgraded version, only $6 a month, the list of perks did not mention this important feature. That makes me unhappy.

The other tools I assessed were:

MindMeister
  • basic icons/tools
  • no font changes
  • help movie included text: "Screenshots Suck" - not appropriate for el. ed. students
Gliffy.com
  • diagram was immediately available for public viewing
  • lots of applications
    • floor plans, flow charts, etc.
  • icons were very small
  • time consuming to establish account (waiting for confirmation e-mail to arrive)
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Brainstorm in real life with your students by using these
Graphic Organizer Resources & Printables
Houghton Mifflin Company - Graphic Organizer Pdfs
Eduplace - Graphic Organizer Pdfs
TeacherVision Graphic Organizer Printables

3 comments:

Lisa Parisi said...

Way to go. Can I use this blog with my Web 2.0 class? I just introduced online organizers last week and would love to show them your results. Thank you!

Adam Dugger said...

I like how you have essentially shared your notes with all of us! I participated in a workshop that allowed us to explore online tools, and I wished that I would have done the same (as if anyone reads my blog!)

See you!
Adam

mike stein said...

Your posts are a huge help. You always impress me. Thanks for helping all of us learn more.