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Creative Writer
Netscape Composer

What does it do? Inspiration is an electronic graphic organizer that inspires students to develop ideas and organize their thinking.  It includes tools for creating visual webs, idea maps, concept maps, outlines and much more.  A huge database of symbols & pictures, templates, and instant connection to the Internet keep this version 6.0 up-to-date. 
How does this tie in with comprehension strategies in Grades 4-8?  Inspiration's tools encourage active learning opportunities during which students clarify their thinking, organize and prioritize information and recognize patterns and relationships.  For writing, the tools can help with brainstorming, organizing ideas, adding details and summarizing the main ideas.  For increased comprehension of new concepts, the tools can help students trace plots, sequence events, expand their understanding of vocabulary words or thematic issues, compare and contrast, describe cause and effect relationships, and make personal connections with photos, clip art or illustrations.  Most of the higher level thinking strategies that we ask students to apply in these grades can be practiced using the tools within Inspiration. 
Online Resources Online Examples 

Responding to Content Area Texts with Inspiration

Plains Indians: Textbook Activity 1

This vocabulary activity should be completed prior to students reading the chapter to find out how much they know about the important concepts that will be introduced in this chapter.  The purpose at this point is to generate active student discussion with the terms they will encounter and to work collaboratively to sort and link the terms in some way.  It is OK is the resulting "web" is not completely accurate, AS LONG AS students then return to the same web after reading to reconstruct their idea web to more accurately reflect the way the terms are used in the textbook chapter.  This type of activity works best when students complete it with at least one partner; the more people in a group, however, the more difficult this task becomes (as all students are expected to come to a consensus before creating their ultimate idea web).  If students are not familiar with a term, they are asked to make an educated guess what other terms it may be related to.  Again, after reading, they can go back and "fix" their web. 


Plains Indians: Textbook Activity 2

This outline of important details was constructed as a template in Inspiration by a teacher after reading a textbook chapter.  Students are asked to rearrange the details listed below the main heading ideas based on information they read in the chapter.  They can complete this as they read the chapter with a partner, or they can complete it after they read the chapter (with a partner or independently).  After the details have been sorted, a class discussion will be held to see if everyone is in agreement about how the chapter is organized.  Student can then use the Inspiration's outline tools to expand on the details, rewording phrases into complete sentences and/or restructuring the main idea and details into summary paragraphs.   Students can also print out the final outline and use it as they study for a test. 


Another Vocabulary Extension Activity Using Inspiration: 

Tut's Mummy, Lost ... and Found
by Judy Donnelly

Inspiration Response Activity 
1. enhance vocabulary and make connections between concepts
2. develop awareness of elements of spatial and visual literacy
3. use electronic organizer tool to represent their ideas visually

Vocabulary Outline with Photos and Important Terms from Story

This image shows a variety of ways for children to drag vocabulary terms and match to photographs that were cut and paste from the Internet.  Labels can have borders around them or left plain, arrows can be linked from the term to the correct picture, students can define the word within the arrow, or users can draw lines from a term to the correct part of a photography.  The template can be set up ahead of time with photos on one side and terms on the other, or photos can be stored in a file and advanced students can copy and paste the photos into the file.  Students can work on this project in a small group and the visual format of the diagram can be left open-ended; the only requirement is that the terms are correctly matched up with photographs.  For enrichment, students could even use this diagram as the basis of a "homepage"  and then provide links to a web site about each term or links to a page they wrote that further defines each term. 

Responding to Science Concepts 

Source: student work samples from California

The template files in Inspiration include many other examples.