Inspiration 9 is a software program that allows students and teachers to create diagrams, mind maps, and outlines. These visuals can be used to organize information, prepare presentations, convey knowledge and understanding of a subject, study for a test, or to write papers and reports. Inspiration allows students and teachers to create their own graphic organizer, but it also provides pre-made templates for Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Thinking and Planning. Science templates cover topics including cell comparisons, classification, experiment analysis, human influences, the periodic table, a lab report diagram and outline, photosynthesis, and six kingdoms of biology. The following module will demonstrate how Inspiration could be used in a science classroom, particularly a Biology classroom.

Not only can teachers create concept maps and graphic organizers for themselves or to provide for their students, but students can use the software as well. By using the software, students will learn to organize their thoughts, test their understanding, and prepare for larger assignments. They will be able to draw connections and see relationships and to manipulate the information in a way they would not be able to with pencil and paper. This software is extremely useful for visual and hands-on learners. Inspiration is extremely useful in the classroom as it allows students to work through all the proper steps of diagramming, mapping, and outlining to create presentations and write papers. 

How to Get Started with Inspiration 9:

-Inspiration 9 can be purchased here http://store.inspiration.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=56 for $69.00, or a free 30-day trial can be downloaded here http://store.inspiration.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=56.

-A three minute overview and a quick tour of the software can be seen here http://www.inspiration.com/videos/Inspiration. Overviews of how to diagram, outline, map, and present with Inspiration are also included on this website as video tutorials. These short videos portray all the ways in which Inspiration can be used within the classroom.

-A quick start guide is available on the Inspiration website to introduce the software to new users. It includes how-to steps to enable users to begin using Inspiration quickly and easily and get the most out of the product. The quick start guide can be found here http://www.inspiration.com/sites/default/files/InspQuickStartGuide.pdf.

-After downloading the free trial or purchasing the software, a LEARN TO USE option is available upon opening the software. It offers documents, examples, and training videos to teach users how to use Inspiration.  

-Upon opening Inspiration, the user will be prompted to choose one of the following options: diagram, outline, map, templates, open a file, or learn to use. The user should then choose the option that best fits their educational need at that time. Diagram, outline, and map allow will allow the user to create their own graphic organizer. Templates provide the user with pre-made graphic organizers on various topics in Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Thinking and Planning.

-Since many school computers will not have Inspiration 9 software, Inspiration has created free Inspiration Presenter software to enable presentation on any computer. A video tutorial on how to do this is offered here http://www.atomiclearning.com/k12/en/search.    

Classroom Examples:

Example 1: Six Kingdoms of Biology: Web and Outline 

-These examples were offered on the Inspiration website and demonstrate how students can create an outline from a diagram, or vice versa, with the click of a button. This web and outline organize information in a way that makes it very easy to write a paper or create a presentation. This example portrays how information on the six kingdoms of Biology can be visually constructed in a web. The webs included the six different kingdoms, the most important classification traits, and pictures of some of the organisms that are included in those kingdoms. A web like this will be a very helpful study tool for students. It helps them focus on the most important information and the pictures will help them better remember the material. http://www.inspiration.com/sites/default/files/images/examples/SixKingdomsBiology_DV_big.png


 Example 2: Classification Map 

-This map was offered on the Inspiration website to demonstrate how maps can be used in the Biology classroom for topics such as the classification of vertebrates. Students can create their own maps to portray their understanding of classification or teachers can create and print out maps like this one for their students to study for an upcoming test. This map contains the same type of content as the web in the previous example; it is just set up in a different way. Comparing this example and the previous example shows how differently material can be organized and presented. Just because students may use Inspiration for the same assignment, it does not mean that they will produce the same type of graphic organizer. This map is like the example before, because it contains classification groups, most important traits, and pictures. It is different in the way it is set up, and this difference will be beneficial to different students with different learning styles.


 Example 3: Nitrogen Cycle 

-This diagram was provided by Brandi Davis and Christine Scott from Nicholls State University. Their diagram depicts the steps of the nitrogen cycle. Diagrams like this are able to visually portray very complicated biological cycles that many students have a hard time understanding and learning. Visually depicting this information allows students to learn and understand the information more quickly. The addition of pictures in the diagram also helps students remember each step of the cycle. Arrows can be added to the figure to show the progression of the process and words can be added to describe what is happening. Additional text boxes can also be added to the image that allows large portions of text to be added in a small space with a scroll down option. This can be very beneficial for teachers that want to critique and give guidance to their students that are completing assignments using Inspiration.


 Example 4: Structure and Function of the Cell

-These diagrams were created by different educators, but both portray the structure of the cell and the function of cell parts. The first was created by Cheryl Teaters, which won the 2009 Best Project award. The second was submitted to the Inspiration website by an unknown creator. These examples show how different the diagrams can be for a certain topic and how teachers can push students to use higher-thinking skills. Cheryl Teaters got her students to compare each cell part to another system. In this example, cell parts are compared to aspects of the US Open. By relating Biology topics to everyday things, students are better able to understand and remember those Biology topics. The scroll down boxes that was mentioned in the previous example is also used in one of these examples. Here, the student used this scroll box option to include an essay within the graphic organizer. This is helpful to teachers, because everything that they need to grade is in one program.




  Example 5:  Cell Contrasts/Comparisons   

-This example was submitted to the Inspiration website by an unknown creator and demonstrates how diagrams can be used to contrast and compare different things. These diagrams allow the student to create an organized visual of the information they are processing. This example also shows how teachers can create assignments and include instructions within the document for their students to complete. Here, the students are being asked to compare and contrast animal and plant cells. The teacher created the graphic organizer, and the students simply have to fill in the necessary information.



Example 6: Cellular Energy Diagram 

-This diagram was submitted to the Inspiration website by an unknown educator and demonstrates how both teachers and students can create diagrams to visualize complicated processes such as Photosynthesis and Respiration. These are dense processes that include many steps and involve many cell organelles. Since cellular energy is such an important topic that all students must understand, visual aids such as this diagram will really increase student learning. A teacher most likely created this as a study tool for his/her students. It depicts where these processes take place and what occurs during them.



 Example 7: Plate Tectonics Presentation   

-This presentation was offered on the Inspiration website. This example demonstrates how students can use the program to transform their maps or diagrams and outlines into a presentation. They do not have to copy and paste their diagrams to PowerPoint, where they can then no longer manipulate their graphic organizer. Since the presentation is made in Inspiration, the information and the visuals can be easily manipulated. Using Inspiration to create maps and diagrams greatly aid presentations. Observers are much more likely to be interested in and understand a visual than they are the text. Being able to manipulate these visuals until the actually presentation prevents a lot of the hassle and stress of switching from one program to another to create a product.


 Assessing Inspiration 9 for the Classroom:


-able to easily manipulate the information: able to move it around and adjust it in a way that is impossible to do with pencil and paper

-looks professional

-keeps ideas organized

-software is easy to use and many tutorials and help guides are offered

-easily applied to all grade levels and all subjects

-diagrams are easily incorporated into presentations

-teachers can have students create the graphic organizer or teachers can create these diagrams for their students to study with

-able to create many things within one program and very easy to switch between the different organizations: maps, webs, diagrams, outlines, presentations, etc.

-offers pre-made templates for several subjects and many topics within those subjects


-expensive to purchase: packages start at $69.00 for a single purchase and a 20-computer license is $895.00, so many schools and most students would not be able to afford the product

-it may take longer for students to construct diagrams and maps using this software than it would for them to use pencil and paper

-the information on the maps and diagrams cannot be manipulated when opened in or copied to another program

-may encounter difficulties when trying to show presentations on a computer that does not have Inspiration 9

-it will take some time for students to learn all the ins and outs of the program (will cut into class time)

 Considerations for Teachers:

-Encourage students to use the word guide offered by Inspiration that includes a dictionary and thesaurus to increase students’ vocabularies

-Consider the goal of the assignment before assigning or suggesting the use of Inspiration. It may take much longer for the whole class to create a simple diagram or map with this software, than simply drawing one with pencil and paper. -Inspiration would be better used for large projects that are assessed on the process and product instead of the product only.

-Take the time to teach students how to use the software.

-Use with students with learning disabilities such as ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, dyslexia, and visual or auditory processing disorders.

-See if any bargains or grants can be obtained before purchasing the software.

-Even assigning the students the same project or topic will result in many different types of graphic displays due to Inspiration’s range of organization and decorative options.

-Encourage students to include pictures on their diagrams, since they will help with memory and understanding.

-Allow students to use Inspiration from start to finish on projects. They can move from an outline, to a graphic organizer (or vice-versa), to a final presentation.

-Great tool to use during class discussions and brainstorming activities to record all ideas quickly for all students to see. These ideas can then easily be manipulated and organized.  

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