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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So I introduced this to a couple of my academically-struggling students as a way to share some down and dirty info they'll be researching. If I was to assign a PowerPoint, Keynote, research paper, or something a little more traditional, they'd simply copy/paste their answers.

This gave them more than simply the opportunity to learn a new program. I introduced it to them at the same time I first worked on it, so we were truly sharing and collaborating in our gives them pleasure and a feeling of mutual respect that they can show me things!

What I really value with this sort of thing is that the other students in the class--the ones who frequently know the answers and don't stuggle so much academically--were very interested in what these guys were learning, and it was driving them crazy that they were finishing up their own projects as I was sharing the new opportunities to the 2 strugglers.

O, did I mention? Those 2 struggler boys will be the go-to guys for Q/A when the rest of the class is introduced to this, so it will set them up as a valuable resource in the eyes of the other students. They'll be able to point out how to share and how to collaborate on the documents!

Yep, this sort of thing is SO good on so many different levels! I think we may be able to consider this as classroom 2.0? I'll cause the class to need to use this--right now they've been drawing webs on paper or on Pages, but this will be interesting to be able to collaborate on the same document w/o chatting or blue toothing it to one another! :)

Incidentally, the rest of the class is working on a tough debate whether Kansas should be a free or a slave state, based on primary sources available in 1860. They are preparing the debate from both sides of the issue. This is a little too complex for my 2 guys, so they're "moving further down the road," becoming local experts on Cattle Trails and Settler Trails. They'll be leading that portion of KS history as we get there, again setting themselves up as "go to guys" on these topics! they've just been kicked in the teeth (not literally) in their previous academic lives, so I have to create opportunities for them to develop self-confidence in their own academic abilities.
Wow! That sounds great! I would love to hear how it all works out. I would also love to put a copy of your lesson plan on the wiki I am creating for this. Kudos to you for trying this so quickly.
Well gosh, how flattering! Thank you!

But, well, yah...I don't have a lesson plan. I pick up various tool ideas and share them with kids, where we work to find ways to implement them academically. I knew that these guys couldn't do what the others were doing in the timeline I provided, and still wanted them to learn similar topics to create mutual community respect of each others' work.

I gave a choice of KS History topics (5) to them and they got to choose which ones they wanted to work on independent of one another. What they don't know is that, true to bubbl, once they feel solid on their chosen topic, they'll be exchanging their work to add even more info to the other's work so far! It allows them to go deeper and think more critically about what their partner has already done, engaging those essential evaluation skills.

Hopefully this is a good enough description for your wiki? Feel free to use this and be sure to send me a link to the wiki! ;-)
Hi Ginger,

What a beautiful turnaround for your 2 strugglers! Thanks for your post.

For debate preparation, I'm considering using debategraph. ( It provides the tools that will allow students to sort their bubble maps more logically into the structure of a debate by creating a tree structure that identifies the relationships between an issue, a position and counter position on the issue, and the supporting evidence for each.

I haven't used it yet, but I plan to teach the students to map their brainstorms first in an unstructured FreeMind (open-source mind map similar to Bubble.US without the collaboration piece) and then use debategraph as way to explicitly map the relationships present in their FreeMind map.

BTW: Debategraph is free, has great examples (a bit complex though) and allows students to collaborate.
I used a similar site with good success for 16/17 year old Physics students who were studying different methods of measuring the distance to the stars. They were learning on behalf of one another in effect and found the experience of being online and watching their colleagues contribute to the growing pool of content a very interesting experience.
The mindmeister tool is free in basic form but does require a payment for premium facilities which I have not yet taken up.
Notes and diagrams can be added to add to the information available and it is a very graphic intense mind map that is produced! The attached file doesn't show the detail in the notes, nor can it demonstrate the fun and collaboration that took place but I hope it's of interest!
Good stuff, Ben & Dave. Thanks for sharing examples and ideas for ways to use these tools with students. While Mindmeister does not offer the cool special effects, the added layer of "extras" for notes, links, etc. can help students take idea development to the next level (like Inspiration). Here's an example that demonstrates this functionality...mousing over the dots will show the notes.
Thought I'd send a pile of these concept mapping tools I've found:
Thank you for the posts!
Wow! Thanks for the list!
I've been checking out a number of mind mapping tools to see if anything could be improved on but really, this is the one (I think!). It would be great too, if we could help these developers out and donate to them via paypal (on their site, and easy to do) - because this really does deserve more support from us as users.

Thanks for your info on this site - it's been v. helpful.
I learned of in a session at NECC but haven't had time to explore it much. After reading these posts, I'm going to check into it further so I can share the site with teachers on my campus. Thanks!



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