Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

List It, Map It

When reading the AASL, American Association of School Librarians, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, the first standard states:

Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.

This standard addresses the idea of the process being as vital as the product.  The variety of Information Literacy Models and Inquiry Learning Models or Virtual Information Inquiry: Models is numerous to say the least.  Most of these do require, initially, a written plan, a series of goals to be met, prior to beginning.

If simplicity, ease of use, is a key requirement for a web 2.0 application to be selected, then this latest service posted by Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers should be part of your virtual toolbox.  Designed to convert an outline to a more visual display, Text 2 Mindmap, launched in 2008, is free to use without registration.  As soon as the home page is accessed users can begin.

On the left side of the screen is a text box with an outline already completed.  This is an example only; the mind map representation is shown on the right.  Before beginning highlight that text and strike the backspace key to erase it.  Outdent and indent icons are in the upper left-hand corner of the text box.

Prior to typing in your words you may click on the triangle of dots in the lower right-hand corner to re-size the box.  When you click on options you can alter the positions by locking and unlocking the boxes, select font color and size, choose the box colors and determine the color, width and type of line.  Colors of the boxes can be by level or branch; options for each can be picked to allow for a final decision later.

The created mind map can be moved around on the screen by clicking and dragging prior to saving (locking) as can each of the individual boxes.  What you see on the screen is what will be saved, so make sure all of your items are completely visible.  Note that font size and number of words will be a determining factor.

When your mind map is completed you have two options for exporting it:  downloading it as a PDF (A4size, high resolution, 300dpi) or downloading it in PNG format (MAC and PC).  It can be shared via Facebook or Twitter as view only. You can also save by giving it a title and entering in your email address.  If you should happen to lose your downloads, then Text 2 Mindmap can send them to you via email.

Here is an image of my mind map titled Caldecott Medal.

This is an ideal application to use with students who do not have individual email addresses. Not having to register is a huge plus with younger students. Text 2 MindMap is one of those applications where you can type, click, drag (arrange) and go, making it the perfect service for elementary and lower middle school students.  Not only would it be a good tool for beginning inquiry but also for writing, brainstorming, or searching for keywords and information within text.

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