Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education

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iTecs Innovative Ideas

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April 10, 2009

Welcome to the iTecs news blurb, a weekly note of ideas for using technology in instruction and to enhance your professional life. We'll keep it simple and brief, but feel free to contact us for more information or to schedule time to work with us.

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Concept Map image source: www.flaguide.org/cat/conmap/conmap2.php
Educational Ideas
Professional Ideas
This issue focuses on the utilization of Internet resources to create concept maps and mind mapping. Wespiration.com and spinscape.com are among the resources highlighted in this issue of Innovative Ideas.

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Why use concept maps?
Concept maps connect to visual thinking skills. Visual thinking is a great tool for brainstorming ideas. Much like a graphic organizer web or flowchart, online concept maps lets users display ideas and information, and easily see the themes and knowledge around a concept or idea. Beyond organizing complex information, visual thinking helps with information retention and recall. The internet tools feature here allow users to add color, images, and shapes in order to help with analyzing and absorbing new content.
Webspiration is an example of an online based concept map creation tool that is easy to use in order to organize information. Webspiration is currently in a beta mode (trial & testing mode). Another tool which is similar to Webspiration is IHMC CmapTools.
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According to their website, “the CmapTools program empowers users to construct, navigate, share and criticize knowledge models represented as concept maps. It allows users to, among many other features, construct their Cmaps in their personal computer, share them on servers on the Internet, link Cmaps, and edit their maps synchronously (at the same time) with other users on the Internet.” Click here to find out more about Cmap tools.
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Another excellent online resource for creating concept maps or mind maps is called
spinscape.com. According to the spinscape.com website, “spinscape is a dynamic web application for mind mapping and visual collaboration.” One of the affordances of using spinscape.com is that it allows for social collaboration surrounding concepts maps. This means that you can share and create concept maps with others. In addition spinscape.com allows users to easily include notes, tags, links, documents, Google gadgets, images and discussions within the shared concept map.

The image below is a spinscape concept map about the iTec group using spinscape.com. Spinscape allows users to color code which is an excellent way to organize information in order to:

  • Build a plan
  • Create a solution
  • Research
  • Brainstorm
  • Problem solve
  • Structure
Source: spinscape.com

Graphic Organizers
While much of this issue has been focused on online tools to allow a user to create a concept map, this section focuses on sites which have examples of graphic organizers which you could use in certain subject areas. These would be great links to pass along to interns and the preservice teachers.
A graphic organizer can be used to assess a student’s prior knowledge, help a student to organize her thinking, and as a metacognitive tool.
See the following links for graphic organizer resources:
Customize Graphic Organizers
Eduplace Graphic Organizer
ReadingQuest
Read, Write, Think
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Comments? More ideas? Feedback?
Respond via email or click on the Discussion tab above to add your input to this issue.

Innovation with Technology in Education Consultants (iTecs)

We are three graduate assistants at Michigan State University who aid the Teacher Education faculty and instructors in using technology to teach subject matter in pedagogically effective ways in their classes. We are available for meeting with teams or individual instructors or assisting with classes. More information can be found on our iTecs wiki, http://itecs.wiki.educ.msu.edu.

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If you would like to be taken off the iTec Innovative Ideas list, please email us. If you know someone who would like to be added, have them email us at msuitecs@gmail.com and they will receive our next Innovative Ideas.

Issues will be archived on the iTecs wiki, http://itecs.wiki.educ.msu.edu/newsletters. Be sure to browse for other ideas there!

Volume 1 Issue 11
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