Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maps to Success --- SMART Ideas & MyWebspiration

Update: MyWebspiration is no longer free now that the product is out of Beta. Try bubbl.us instead. 
A lot of students with special needs are visual learners. Many have poor executive function (in other words, they're clinically disorganized). Put them in a Venn Diagram, and you'll see a fair number in the overlap section.
One of the strategies for dealing with these issues is to use graphic organizers, such as Mind Maps and Concept Webs. In fact, graphic organizers can be an indispensible tool, even to those without special needs, to
  • view and represent information
  • study/memorize material
  • plan projects
  • organize research
  • provide scaffolding for tasks.
In Ontario, we are very fortunate that our Ministry of Education has licensed SMART Ideas software for all public schools and teachers. I love SMART Ideas because it's so intuitive. It simply does what you want it to. If you're teaching in Ontario and don't use already use it, do check it out.
As wonderful as Ontario's Software Acquisition Program (OSAPAC) is, it doesn't license software for student home use. So students who benefit immensely from software like SMART Ideas are out of luck. At least they were until....
A free, web-based version of mindmapping software Inspiration was released last year. MyWebspiration.com has tons of features.
I still prefer SMART Ideas. Webspiration is a bit less intuitive and less flexible. But if you or your students don't have access to SMART Ideas or Inspiration, you just can't beat the price of $0.00!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Combining WordQ and Kurzweil 3000

f you're familiar with WordQ, the excellent word-completion and -prediction software, you probably already know that you can use it together with all sorts of other software for writing, including Kurzweil 3000.

Typing with WordQ in Kurzweil 3000 is a fairly intuitive process, but Kurzweil can also be used to boost the vocabulary and topic lists in WordQ.

Here the how-to, broken into 2 videos:

Ignore any references to the SharePoint, unless you work in my school board.

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