The research is pretty clear. Organizing and brainstorming tools provide students with support to structure their thoughts and learning. I’m thinking specifically about Inspiration software since that is something we have had for years. It continues to be one of the most useful and least used tools we have. I count myself number one in non-use. Anytime I’m beginning a project for myself or for use with a class, I do not break out Inspiration and organize my thoughts. I use a word processor or other format to put things together. For some of the research projects students do, we have included Inspiration as part of the organizing process, and then converted to a word processing document. When the time ogre rears its ugly head, Inspiration is the first thing to get tossed out of the project.
Why is this?
Organizing is a top issue with students crafting their writing. Inspiration is the perfect tool to assist with this. Is it because Inspiration is a separate program that is not the final product? Are the benefits not worth the time to learn it? Jamie McKenzie always publishes his writing with diagrams that show his thinking and it is very informative. Should we have students produce writing that includes diagramming to enhance their work? Tools like Inspiration are perfect to help promote the Better Answers writing process we use.
So, where am I at with this? Let’s see… (click & drag the diagram around)
Well, that pretty much clears up my thinking…organizing and brainstorming tools take time, but the benefits definitely outweigh the challenges. The key is finding the right tool to facilitate the process, be it Inspiration or Bubbl.us (used above) or something else. Clear and thoughtful communication is difficult – tools such as these can really help.