Wednesday, February 3, 2010 for mindmaps and more.

Today was a great day using! I've used this site in the past on my own, but today I fired it up for my sophomore class. We've been stuck in essay purgatory and it's been really difficult for me to get across to my students the need for details and examples in their writing. I was hoping that could help.

I have to admit that I was not completely sold on the site when I used it on my own. It can get a bit unwieldy as more links are added. It takes some patience to work through how to move each section or individual bubbles. Even so, I am happy to report that my students LOVED it! They needed almost no instructions from me but attacked the site as soon as it opened. They were changing colors and adding bubbles and typing away in no time. I heard all sorts of positive side-talking, like "I'm totally going to use this for my history notes," and "It makes WAY more sense because I can color-code it!" allows you to save your work to the site, email it to yourself (or someone else), save it as a web link to share, embed it in a web page, and share and collaborate with others. My students were very excited to use this tool. It's user-friendly and has a ton of uses for any discipline.

How can you use in your classroom?

1. Use it as an alternative to outlining or webbing for the prewrting process. As my students work through their "bubbles" I'm encouraging them to write in complete sentences. That way they can copy/paste into a Word document and have a strong draft for their essays.

2. Use it as a character map, writing out parts of a story that connect one character to another.

3. Have students create their own family tree and write about each person (you can also add images and sound).

4. Have student create a family tree for characters in their own original stories.

5. Have students use the bubbles to write collaboratively. Have one student write the first line of a poem with the "Parent" bubble, then other students contribute lines for each "Child" bubble.

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