Brainstorming…

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Brainstorming. Concept maps. Word Webs.

Knowing the thoughts of our students is vital to ensuring that they are learning something, no matter how big or small, but technology now offers us more ways of doing that. There are many Web 2.0 tools and Apps available to present student knowledge in a way that is organised, eye-catching and reflective.
Here are some of my favourites that I use in the classroom, as well as some that I have tinkered with personally.

1. Popplet Lite

Popplet Lite is a simple, free iOS App designed to help users map their ideas and thoughts. It uses text boxes which can be colour coded for grouping, but also has the ability to insert photos from the camera roll or via the in-app camera. My students love using Popplet, as they can include photos of themselves, move the ‘popples’ all around the screen and choose a variety of colours. Popplet Lite enables the user to export the Popplet by email or saving to your camera roll.  I ask my students to email the jpeg file of their Popplet to me, so I can monitor their progress and upload it to our class blog. The full version of Popplet ($5.49) allows the user to create more than one Popplet and save it to the device you are using.

2. Mindomo

This free iOS & Android App is another mind-mapping tool. It allows you to enter text, link text boxes together, insert photos from your camera roll, the Mindomo library, Bing and Flickr, as well as a variety of icons to add to your map. Furthermore, hyperlinks can be added to the text, which enables more information to be included. Sharing the maps can be done via email, or exported as an image or a PDF. My students like using this App, as it provides them with a few more editing and formatting options. I haven’t signed up with an account for Mindomo, although for some extra options you may need to.

3.  Wordle

Wordle is a word cloud Web 2.0 tool which is free to use. It simply requires the user to input text, which may be copied from a website or blog, or inserted word by word. I love using Wordle, as it the size of the words depends on the frequency of that word within the slab of text. I use it for predicting the theme of texts, or for brainstorming the opinions of students to look for similarities in their thoughts. The Wordles are able to be printed to display or saved as a PDF, and the font colour and direction can be edited easily.

4. Tagxedo

Tagxedo is another Web 2.0 word cloud tool, with similar capabilities as Wordle. One option that Tagxedo offers is that the text can be arranged in a shape, chosen from the gallery.  The colours and fonts can also be changed, with some really funky fonts available. Tagxedos can be saved to be emailed, or printed for display. The only trick to entering your text is to do it via the ‘Load’ button!

5. Cloudart

This is an iOS app ($0.99) which creates beautiful simple word clouds, like Wordle and Tagxedo. I like this app because it is so simple to use, especially for students. The word cloud can be saved to the Camera Roll, as well as being emailed or printed, which is fantastic for keeping a record of students’ work samples.

There are probably many other apps and tools used for creating mind-maps and word clouds and I’d love to hear what your favourites are. Let me know!

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