In order to encourage my students to brainstorm for their research paper projects, I decided to use BUBBLE.US to have them create and collaborate via virtual word webs. In addition to being simple and easy to use, this site allows students to get their daily fix of networking. I was able to establish an account so that they could network with me. That way I could check their word webs from home. Also, I had them link to each other so that they could collaborate together by topics.

Typically I have trouble getting them to get excited about word webs. (Did I just use the phrases “get excited” and “word webs” in the same sentence?) However, they were VERY excited about doing this. The guys loved how the bubbles exploded when you deleted them, and the girls loved the colors. However, the thing they seemed most interested in was the fact that they could network.

Then, during lectures about organization, all I had to do was turn on my projector and pull up my account and view their word webs. We were able to have engaging discussion on how we could organize different topics. And organizing their peers’ ideas helped all of them, even though they didn’t share the same topics.

One other neat-o thing about this site is that you can print them out as they appear or as html, which will look like an outline but without the Roman numerals.

Anyway. That was one of my successes.

Have a good day.

Ben Davis
11th Grade English Teacher

Tags: 2.0, Web, classroom, ideamaps, orgainization, technology, website, writing

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Can you explain this in a little more detail. I'm sorry if I'm being thick, but I looked at the Website and I don't really get it - I didn't spend a lot of time on it, but it wasn't immediately intuitive to me. What do you mean by "word web" and how do the kids collaborate?

I get that I could use this like I use Inspiration as a brainstorming tool that kids could do at home without having to have Inspiration software, but can you explain the collaborating feature - how does that work? And can you be more specific about the assignments you gave to your students. This sounds cool and it seems like it has a lot of potential. I'm trying to think about K-8 applications for my teachers. Thanks for sharing.
First, I attached an example the pictures.

First, I attached an example the pictures.

Second, you could use it to have your students do a closing activity for a lesson/unit. Lets say that we have to draw a similarity between The Pigman and Where the Red Fern Grows. Students could start off with 2 bubbles (one for each book) and collaborate while sitting at a computer in one room, or they could do it in front of their own computers at home.

Students could also be assigned various topics to research. If you designed each question to have a different focus, but same basic principles behind them, you could use this website for collaboration.
**Example questions:
Set A
What are the differences between liquids and gasses?
What are the similarities between Solids and gasses?

Set B
Draw a BUBBL that examines the racism in OTHELLO.
Draw a BUBBL that examines the racism in Huck Finn

Both of the sets of questions above have very different qualities to them. Student could express a large amount of knowledge by answering any of these four questions, but that is only tapping into the KNOWLEDGE in Bloom’s Taxonomy. What if we could get them to move on to EVALUATION simply by having him/her complete one of these questions and then seek out a friend who answered the other question in the set and add then evaluate each other and add to the other person’s question.

Vocabulary could also be used with this site. Students could do a diagram for the 5 words they think are them most difficult for that week’s vocab lesson. Then they could make a word web where the main block is for the chosen vocab word. Pink blocks are for similar words that have come up in other vocab lessons. Green blocks would be for previously learned vocab words that serve as antonyms. Yellow blocks are for associations to the student’s own life. And, finally, blue blocks for tricks that might help them remember the words.

Then have the students go on a scavenger hunt for all of the words that were not on their “hardest words” list.

You can add friends by clicking the FRIENDS tab on the right side of the screen. Then you can click on the MY SHEETS tab and save your diagram. Now, when you click on that saved sheet, you can click "Share" at the top of the list. That will enable you to share this with your friends. Click on COLLABORATE, and you will be able to see the list of your friends. There is a pair of eyeglasses next to each name. (The glasses will appear very faintly until you choose to collaborate on that project with one of the friends--just click on the glasses by the prospective name.) Once you have chosen to collaborate with friend X, he/she will be able to go to his/her bubbl account and click on COLLABORATE to see the list of diagrams he/she is able to access.

I hope this explanation helps.
Interesting ideas, Ben. Do you have any examples of any of the concept maps that you describe?
I have a simple question which I hope many of you might reply. How do you carry off all of this in your classroom? Or are you in a computer lab? My situation: 30+ students and 2 desktops. OR laptops on carts with a battery life that prevents all my seventh graders from doing the activity the same day. Just how many computers are you folks averaging in your rooms?
I'm fortunate to be in a 1:1 school; all of our students 9-12 have laptops. Our 7-8 grade have carts. It has been very easy to demonstrate examples from my desktop on the LCD projector and have my students follow the steps to learn new applications. Mind Node is another application we use, but without the collaboration feature. Two years ago I had just 10 computers in my English classroom and we had to rotate days or work in pairs. Certainly not ideal,b ut it was better than nothing and at least got them a little better prepared. At this stage I can't even imagine having to forfeit our Macbooks! *Terri*
I think that I might have answered your question when responding to Elizabeth Davis' comment above.
Thanks for sharing this project! I hadn't heard of bubbl yet. We use Inspiration software but the networking element sounds really exciting for students and convenient for the teacher as well.
This is precisely what I've been looking for! I had a student ask for Inspiration or even Kidspiration software the other day while doing some pre-writing (organizing his thinking), but we don't have access to that terribly expensive software!

I knew that open-source software was going to change the world; we now have so many more resources available to us for FREE! Can't wait til limitless broadband is available (at least) nationwide so we don't have to worry about paying those dumb bills! ;)
An open source option that is not web based is FreeMind. It is fairly simple, but works well for pre-writing purposes. I use it at home quite regularly, but I do enjoy web-based technologies, so I may have to switch to

Would you consider adding this material to the Classroom 2.0 wiki? (

I don't think we have a category yet that fits this... would it be Collaborative Idea Maps? What would you call it?
Sure...that would be fine.
Steve - I have a found pedagogical model and posted on the Classroom 2.0 wiki.
Paul McKenzie and I have been using Bubblus to process / review some webware teaching ideas aswell. I will embed the map for the classroom 2.0 crowd to browse over at the bottom of the post

In teaching out staff use mind maps to help students see the links between the key points of a lesson and also to show and develop key terms or areas of learning.


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