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Spicing up 6th grade (Winchester House School)

November 7th, 2010      

James, a 6th grade student in the UK, said, “I thought spicynodes was quite fun and it was very clever.” Last month, he and his fellow 6th graders (year 6) at the Winchester House School, in Northants, about 50 miles north of Oxford, England, used SpicyNodes over the course of several lessons based around Internet research, in the ‘Information and communication technologies’ class taught by educator Chris Leach. Chris works with all classes at the school, and worked with James’ 6th grade class for an hour per week. Chris said, “I’ve done mind-mapping before with children but only ever pencil and paper. SpicyNodes was the first tool I came across that had the flexibility I wanted—the ability to link any node to any other.”

In the first session, Chris led students through the process of creating the royal family tree. They started with Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and then added their children, and grandchildren. Says Chris, “in the first hour long lesson, I was able to show the children how to get signed up and create their first nodemap. To begin with, they were just linking nodes to create a simple family tree. By the end of this first session they had all successfully created a basic nodemap.” The second assignment involved historical figures.

The third assignment, inspired by Book Week, was to, “create a nodemap in Spicynodes about an author of your choice… Start with the name of the author as the main node and then include the different books that they have written. You could also then include different characters. Try and include pictures if you can.” By now,  students were adding more information and images to their nodes, and some students were making links between nodes or to external websites. According to Chris, “Several of the children have also continued their projects at home, which is fantastic.” He continues, “ Generally the children picked up the basics pretty quickly and the more able have explored the site even further. They all seem to really enjoy using it and have had no complaints about the task of adding lots of pictures to their nodes. I was expecting them to complain about having to do the same thing over and over again”

What do the kid’s say? On the class blog, student Sophie said, she spent “… 2 hours doing this i added pictures and wrote about Enid Blyton it was great fun and i finished it.” James said, “I found spicynodes a little difficult but it was fun!” On a self-evaluation, Henry said, “I found it quite easy to use but i did not put a picture in i evalute my work a 9 out of 10.”  More critical comments came from Guy, “i found spicynodes fun but tricky,” Edward, “I think Spicy Nodes is alright. It needs to be easier to use,” Theo, “it was quite easy but kind of boring after a while,” and Ned, “I am not very good at it. but its fun.” Two kids were inspired by the possiblities of SpicyNodes, and continued to work on their nodemaps at home.

Says Chris, “ When I first introduced them to SpicyNodes it was a bit of an experiment to see how well they would take to it—I had feared it may be a bit too complex for them, especially adding photos, etc., but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well they have taken too it and will definitely use it again.”

For an example of what happens when a student gets excited with SpicyNodes, see  Freddie’s nodemap which he working on from home, and also Alice’s nodemap on Beatrix Potter.

2 Responses

  1. [...] earlier post on 6th graders using SpicyNodes, raises a larger question of what kinds of ways can a tool like SpicyNodes be used by students. [...]

  2. [...] on how to achieve certain effects and then wrote about the children’s work on their own blog. http://www.spicynodes.org/blog/2010/11/07/spicing-up-6th-grade-winchester-house-school/ from → Year 6 ← The Digital Story of Nativity LikeBe the first to like [...]

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