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Inspiration from a Graphic Organizer

by Linda C. Neumann

February, 2004

 
 

A 2e child I know once said, “If I could just hook my brain up directly to the computer, I could get my ideas down the way I want them.” That way, he could bypass the stage in his homework where he loses all momentum – when he’s staring at a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen trying to tame the creative ideas tumbling around inside his head.

Inspiration® is a software program designed to help learners from grade 6 through adult get around that thinking and planning roadblock. (Another version called Kidspiration™ is available for grades K through 5.) Developed by Inspiration Software, Inc., the software helps users develop and structure their ideas by creating diagrams that serve as electronic graphic organizers.

Graphic organizers use visual techniques for showing the relationships between ideas, concepts, questions, or other forms of information. Their purpose is to make complex information easy to grasp; and they’re often embraced by the visual-spatial learners who are well represented among the ranks of twice-exceptional kids.

Many students have learned to use paper-based graphic organizers in pre-writing activities or as a way to take notes or organize research. Inspiration software updates this tool from paper to the computer, offering much more flexibility and requiring less effort from kids who find writing by hand to be a challenge. Kids can capture their ideas in graphic form and then play with them on the screen, arranging them in different ways to see what fits and what doesn’t, and to identify what’s missing.

Students can use the templates that come with the program or they can create their own diagrams to organize information. Users can add images from clip art or websites to their diagrams, easily rearrange or revise the diagrams, convert them to written outlines, and export the outlines to a word processing program. Users can also use colors, fonts, shapes, and other formatting functions to differentiate among ideas; and they can insert hyperlinks to the Internet into the diagrams. Audio capabilities let students hear their work read aloud or record their own words.

To get started, students can go through a tutorial to learn about all of the functions and capabilities the program has to offer. The tutorial can also help students get used to working with diagrams, like webs and concept maps, if they aren’t already familiar with them. 

What’s likely to appeal to teachers is the versatility of this software. Students of varying abilities can use it for different research, writing, and presentation purposes, and teachers can use it to communicate information to students visually.

Inspiration software is available for both Windows and Macintosh computers. Home users should expect to pay approximately $60 for the software. For additional information, visit the Inspiration Software, Inc., website, where you can download a free 30-day trial.

 

Find out how teachers rate this software at: www.education-world.com/a_tech/tech123.shtml.

For an article on using Inspiration® to teach reading and writing to students with LDs, see: www. ldonline.org/ld_indepth/technology/inspiration.html.

 
   

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