Sunday, May 18, 2014

DigiLit Sunday - Digital Mind Maps

      I love that Margaret Simon has started a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog to challenge us to share our technology journeys.  

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about giving my students a choice to create mind maps on paper or digitally to show their thinking and learning after reading their Scientists in the Field books with partners.  It was interesting to see who chose which option.  It was also fascinating to hear and watch the kids who used the digital tool ( collaborate and figure out how to incorporate all the requirements.  

A glitch came halfway through the project when the website was updated.  Oh my!  It was quite stressful - some of their work was lost, the website was slow and didn't work the same, and some couldn't get on with their original usernames and passwords.  They were so frustrated (and so was I).  To be honest, we all wanted to throw our hands up and change to paper.  Luckily, I was in touch with someone from the website.  He patiently and graciously worked with us until all the work was restored, passwords and usernames fixed, and the website worked faster and more efficiently than ever.  I thought it was neat for the kids to see that a real live person is behind these digital tools, and we can get help if needed.  I was really proud of the kids.  We made it into a learning experience about the highs and lows of using technology.  They will all probably use technology in their lives and professions in the future, so working through glitches and frustrations that inevitably come with using technology is paramount.  

 I liked Margaret's questions from my previous post:
 I wonder how the digital tool may have enhanced or diminished the final product. Why did some students feel more confident still using paper?  
We talked about these questions in my classes.  The kids were honest - some chose the digital route because they thought it "would be easier."  Ha.  It turned out that it was not easier at all.  Other kids chose it because they don't feel like they are artistic, so the digital tool took neatness and creativity out of the equation (even though they didn't realize they really could be creative with the digital tool as well).  Kids who tend to be more artistic liked the paper.

Next year we will be giving the PARCC assessments on computers, and this I know for sure: my students will be able to handle the digital tools.  It will not be a hindrance to them to have to highlight, drag and drop, read and compose on the computer, etc.  They've gotten plenty of practice with that!  Take a look at their mind maps.  Unfortunately, you can't see the writing clearly, but you can get an idea of what they looked like.  

Here are some of the mind maps students created on paper:


  1. Holly, I am posting my comment again. Speaking of tech problems, I've had this happen a few times on your blog. Hit publish and it disappears without a trace. Maybe you could contact a real person at blogspot?
    Anyway I made a comment and promptly forgot what I typed, but the gist was how great you were to persevere with the kids and teach them the powerful lesson of staying in the struggle. Their projects look awesome.

    1. Oh dear - I'm so sorry! I'll have to look into that. :-(