Monday, August 16, 2010

Tools to Consider

Two software packages that we sometimes recommend to the students we see can be useful tools for organizing writing and other tasks. Although neither is free, they both offer 30 day free trials, so it might be worthwhile checking them out and trying one or both to see if they are worth your time and money.

The first, which has been around for a number of years, is Inspiration, which we have written about in the past. It is recommended for students in grades 6-12, but may have wider appeal. This software also has a version for younger students in grades K though 5, called Kidspiration.The Inspiration software helps students organize their thoughts into outlines and to create linkages between ideas to best structure a writing assignment or project. It switches easily from a diagram view to an outline, and back again. Once a student gets the hang of things (and it is easy enough that even your blogger was able to master it) he or she can brainstorm ideas, linking and moving each idea, concept or topic to another and creating subcategories where needed. Colors, shapes, and linking lines help keep thoughts in groups, and let students get their ideas on paper and then move them around to build the best written product.

Mindjet Mind Manager is a more complex program which can be used to manage tasks and projects in both an individual and business setting. It does not have a version for younger users, and is substantially more expensive than Inspiration, but can offer significant support for project planning, especially when working in teams, and may be of interest to students in college and post-secondary environments.

As the new school year approaches, you might want to check out both of these tools, download a free trial, and see how they work with your learning needs, or those of your child.

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