I have decided to start looking for more software that the students cna use on their computers. Software that will help them, will save them, and me, time, and will not be something new to work on, but will take the place of something they are writing already. I used to think that we need to be a "paperless classroom". We would use the computer for everything... but I now see the error in my thinking. We need the students to write.
Students need to learn to communicate with others without a computer. They need to have good, readable, handwriting. Students need to write. The bonus with the computer is that with the amount of technology in the world, they will need to practice using a computer for their information gathering, producing, and presenting. They already know how to use technology, but students need to learning and practice communicating with technology and maneuvrering around the amount of information that is out there. We, as teachers, need to show students what is out there that can help them and how to find what they need. They can assimulate to whatever technology is out there. They have used cellphones, MP3 players, calculators, computers, and other tech toys and have come to play. They have come to be challenged and we are here to give them a challenge.
So back to the software. I found a website called Mind42.com from the Inernational Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology in Singapore, March 2010. It is a Mind Mapping Software to put together a web of ideas. It can be used for mapping anything and everything. It was a great tool to use. It was also beautiful. The only problem is that the user needs to have an email address. I have a problem with that being that I teach Elelmentary School. For security reasons I will not have students use an email address to sign up for a program. So, I started looking and came up with two other downloadable programs. They work in Java, so they will work on all computers. FreeMind is a great alternative. It can be found at FreeMind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page FreeMind is the Mind Map I will go with because of the amount of things the students can put on this Mind Map. The other is a program called VUE from Tufts University. It can be found at Vue.tufts.edu and is great, but a litle harder to use than Free Mind. We will be using this is our writing and Spelling. I am pretty excited to get started with this little program. The students can print out the maps or save them as a pdf file. Sweet.