Monday, November 23, 2009

The Spiration Family: Graphic Organizers and Education

This post focuses on graphic organizers as a way to help students learn in a more focused and organized way. The Spiration Family includes Inspiration, Webspiration and Kidspiration. Inspiration is the original concept mapping tool designed for older students and adults. Kidspiration as the name implies is focused on younger audiences and Webspiration is online version of Inspiration. There are two parts to this post. The first identifies two sample lessons using Kidspiration. The latter highlights three sample concept maps that I have personally created and used.

Good Kidspiration Examples:
The first example that I want to highlight is the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere Cartoon Creator lesson at There are several reasons that I picked this one. First, the author provides both a .pdf of the lesson plan as well as a sample kidspiration file of what the resulting product could look like. The template that is used is built-in to Kidspiration under the Social Studies Content Area and the graphics are used from the embedded libraries but the teacher can also bring in their own symbol library. The lesson plan also emphasizes critical thinking skills by suggestion that the last two frames of the cartoon relate to the impact of the actions of the event. It’s also extensible to any social studies content area that the students may be studying.

The second example is actually from my student teaching experience. The teacher had his third grade class divide up into pairs to interview each other. They would be taking notes using the Writing view of Kidspiration. The template that was modified for this is the “Story of My Life” template in the Reading and Writing content area. The students then examine the graphical view to understand the organization of the interview, and to add images. The students then did a second round of interviews to provide the elaboration details. Finally, the students exported their kidspiration notes to Microsoft Word in order to publish their interview on the school bulletin board.

My Spiration Examples:
The first example is using Inspiration to design a webquest on the topic of Colonial Values and America today. In designing a WebQuest, organization is extremely important. Inspiration is a great tool because it allows for reorganization and multiple idea paths which is critical in WebQuest design. Using Inspiration in this manner would be helpful for students at the secondary level who are instructed to design a WebQuest of their own in order to gain a deeper understanding of the content areas that they are studying and to provide useful tools for students yet to come.

Here is the concept map that I designed for my WebQuest which you can find at

The second example uses Webspiration as a group brainstorming platform. The advantages of Webspiration are that it is free and the concept map can be edited by multiple people through sharing. In a class where we had to design a lesson for a particular group of students using collaborative activities, my group chose to create a lesson on what it means to be a green citizen. It was targeted at the high school level. We all contributed to the resulting concept map shown below which was used to design the Green Citizen wiki and website that students would use to create their projects. This is a great example of how concept maps can be used by students working on group projects to get organized and come to consensus on the direction of their projects.

Here is the Webspiration map for the Green Citizen project (pbwiki:, website:

The third and final example is a Kidspiration project I designed for a second grade class at my student teaching placement. They were beginning a unit on New York City and specifically transportation today and at the turn of the 20th century in NYC. They would be visiting the NYC Transit Museum and this lesson was to be an introduction to the NYC subway system. The students had not been exposed to Kidspiration before so I created several templates for them to use. The students were divided into groups of three and assigned a subway line by color. This allowed me to differentiate the lesson as some lines are easier than others. The students would be identifying end points, numbers or letters associated with the line, the original line company (IRT, BMT or IND), important sights along the line and the boroughs through which the line passes.

Here is a picture of the completed template for the Green line:


1 comment:

  1. Hi GadgetGirl,

    This is great post talking about our suite of Inspiration Software programs! I wanted to know if you have specifically used Webspiration BETA to create storyboards with your classes?

    You may email me at connect(at) I'd also love to chat with you on our blog, Facebook or Twitter.

    I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

    Sarah Cargill, Inspiration Software