And then the magic happens by Mark McLaughlin
I’ve always been an experimenter in the classroom. And luckily, I’ve always had pretty easy-going and willing-to-be-experimented-on students. So when I recently asked my Grade 8 students to try out different ways of creating a sociogram, they said, “Sure!”*
Here was the task: a sociogram of sorts to show the relationships between characters in Twelfth Night, part of our unit titled “For the Fun of It: Merry-making in Society.” As you can see if you visit the post, I gave my students several choices with which to try out their graphic-organizer creation skills. Here were the general results:
- Inspiration was by far the most popular initial choice. You’ll note that I’ve emphasized the word “initial.”
- Gliffy was the second most popular initial choice (the risk-takers).
- Few students tried any of the other options listed. I’ll come back to this issue later.
- Those students who tried Inspiration first were each met with a problem as soon as they finished their lovely diagram: the difficulty of exporting into a useable file for posting on their blog.
- Inspiration, while definitely a preferred learning tool for both me and my students, has limitations that previously were not revealed, as we had been using the software for internal purposes, rather than for digital publishing. Perhaps there is something we are missing that the Inspiration team will let me know about… ? We’d be happy to find a way to make this work better.
- Online tools and applications are becoming easier and easier to use all the time, even with an internet connection as slow as ours!
- I’m definitely more inspired now (sorry, Inspiration!) to use some of the other online concept-mapping tools available, some of which I listed in the original post. I am already thinking about which one I might ask my students to experiment with next!
- I’ve yet to be fired for experimenting with my students. I think that’s probably because I teach some fabulous kids who are more than willing to be guinea pigs!
*Well, okay. They didn’t actually say that. But they didn’t complain either. They jumped-in without whining too much. I teach great students!