I want to take time on this blog to focus on which apps I use in the classroom and how. There are plenty of places on the internet to find long lists of apps for teachers to use and many of these lists include explanations about how the app works. But that doesnt really help me. I want to know, specifically, how I can use that app in the classroom. Which subjects? What grade levels? What assessments specifically? So those are the questions I hope to answer with these “Apps in the Classroom” posts.
First up is the Inspirations Map app, which is available on the app store for $9.99 (although it does qualify for Apple's half-price discount for education accounts when doing bulk purchases of 20+ copies).
This app lets students and teachers create a fantastic assortment of visual maps for any and all subject areas.
Students can create basic spider web outlines, plot summaries, sequence of events, comparing and contrasting, science lab outlines, and much more.
In my classroom,
I have my fifth grade students use Inspiration to outline sections in their history or science textbooks. When we read chapters, I want the kids to pay attention, pick up on important facts, remember definitions, and more. I used to have the students outline by hand, but they would always moan and groan about how much work it is. However, with Inspiration, they can create a much cooler (and more organized) outline in a much shorter amount of tine.
The students' outlines look something like this when completed:
You can color code the sections, have multiple branching paths, move the boxes around as you see fit, and make the web as big or as small as you want. The students get very creative with it, they enjoy doing it, and the final result is much neater than what many of them could create by hand.
But the coolest thing about Inspiration is that if you press the icon in the top left corner that looks like three lines, it will automatically convert the visual map into an actual outline:
This means that kids can use their creativity with the visual map to create the outline, then when it is time to study they can easily convert it to a simple and easy-to-read traditional outline.
As mentioned, I mainly use this app for outlining textbook chapters. I also include it in various outside reading projects/assessments. I might have them do a timeline of events from a novel they've read, have them compare and contrast a book to its movie version, list character traits, and many more. With a bit of work you can even make passable timelines or family trees using their outline creator. There really are a ton of very good classroom uses for this app.
The best thing about it? It is so intuitive that a bunch of fifth graders (10 year olds) had it mastered in less than one lesson. This saves the teacher the time of having to teach the app to the student. You can instead teach the actual material.