Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bubbles That Work For You

Under Content Collaboration, Standards for the 21st -Century Learner, 1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within a learning community, 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners and 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use and assess, the American Association of School Librarians selected bubbl.us in their 2009 Top 25 Web sites for Teaching and Learning. 

bubbl.us is a free application designed to enhance mind-mapping and brainstorming.  I was unable to find any age restrictions in the Terms of Service or Privacy Policy but the standard is to have students without parental permission to be 13 years of age or older.  A user can begin without registering but when a sheet is completed and you wish to save, registration is required.

To register only a username and password is necessary.  Your first and last name as well as an email address are optional.  In that respect personal information is not necessary to use this service.  To begin click the Start Brainstorming button located in the center of the home page.

Click on the Start Here button in the center of the next screen.  At that time two small squares appear on the right and bottom of the bubble.  When you click on the right square another bubble is generated.  When you click on the bottom square a "child" bubble is created for that bubble.  Click on the Start Here text to add your own text.

When you mouse over a bubble a series of icons appear above it.  These icons allow you to (from left to right):  change the color of the bubble background or change the color of the text within the bubble, the second icon, by repeated clicking, will enlarge the text and the size of the bubble, the third icon by clicking and dragging will draw a line to another bubble and the final icon deletes the bubble.

A cool feature is that bubbles can be clicked and dragged on the screen for placement and the screen itself can be clicked and dragged for viewing and working purposes.  Bubbles can be collapsed (hidden). 

Once a sheet is started across the top of the page are icons which offer the options of undo, copy, paste, print, export (JPG or PNG or HTML outline using colors and/or keeping URLs), or save.

To save a sheet log in with your username and password.  A series of choices appear in a box to the right of the working area.  You can name your sheet and make folders to store similar sheets.  When you select the down arrow/Sharing button your sheets can be shared with other bubbl.us account holders; permission can be given to edit, read only or no access.  If you choose the down arrow to the right of the word Sharing you can share a read-only link to the sheet or an HTML embed code is given. 

An extensive Help section explains very well other features of this simple to navigate, but very useful application.  One feature that is easy to accomplish is the labeling of lines connecting bubbles.  Just click on the lines and add your text.

Here is an example of a sheet with a variety of bubbles that I was able to generate very quickly.  I can see using this application almost any time a class wishes to discuss a variety of topics.  We are reading The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate as a class read with our fourth graders.  I will be using and expanding this sheet.

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