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Technology Highlights

Inspiration and Kidspiration Software

Spatial organizers help make content more concrete and more familiar to students when studying various content areas. Graphic organizers can be used in almost any content area. Organizers can be used to teach sequence of events, cause-and-effect relationships, to compare and contrast ideas or concepts, or to illustrate hierarchies. Organizers can be used as story webs during the brainstorming phase of writing papers. Graphic organizers can be developed as story maps that include specific details to facilitate comprehension and learning about characters, plots, major events, and story themes. Organizers can be used to develop hierarchies of important-to-least-important content in science and social studies. Graphic organizers can also be used to design study guides to accompany content area textbooks.

Organizers can take many forms. Inspiration and Kidspiration software provide assistance in developing graphic organizers, webs, brainstorming, diagramming, outlining, and prewriting strategies. Both programs contain numerous templates that can be adapted to suit needs, but also offer the flexibility to allow users to create custom-made templates and designs. Directions for developing organizers appear fairly clear, and students who have some facility with computer use and various software programs typically experience little difficulty in developing organizers independently.

Both Inspiration and Kidspiration have extensive graphics’ libraries that can be integrated within diagrams to help make the information even more concrete and meaningful to students. Libraries of content areas, such as animals, foods, shapes, or plants, organize colored graphics. Users can also import graphics of their own from personal photos or from the Internet into Inspiration documents. The technology also offers a wide range of fonts and colors that can be changed during production of an organizer. Various fonts and colors can be used to highlight specific organized details within a single graphic organizer. Both programs have features that enable users to switch from diagrams to outlines and vice versa very easily and are printable in either format. Kidspiration has the unique feature of adding sound to the program such that words entered into the organizers can be “read aloud” for students. Both also have features that allow the versions to be saved into word documents or, as mentioned earlier in the chapter 3 Integrating technology feature, have applets that can be used with AlphaSmarts and then combined with the full-scale programs on computers.

Inspiration is listed as being appropriate from grades 6 through 12, while Kidspiration is appropriate for K–5. However, both may be adaptable up or down in grade levels depending on the individual ability levels of your students. Sample organizers from each are provided. Contact http://www.inspiration.com for additional information. a 30-day free trial version is available to be downloaded from the Website. Refer to the chapter 11 Companion Website for links to Web casts describing how to use Inspiration software (http://www.techmentor.org/webcasts.html) and to other graphic organizer sites.

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