Friday, September 22, 2006

More thoughts about thinking tools

So what is the value of having thinking tools online vs the more traditional pen and paper, drawing, model?
Firstly having the tools online makes them accessible from any classroom or even location that has internet access. We have recently purchased a set of laptops that can be used with wireless connections anywhere in the school and this makes the availability of the thinking tools much more real and applicable simply because we can access them no matter where we are.
The engagement factor can't be underestimated. Students interact with each other online and in real time whether they are in the same classroom or in another school. Even the design and ease of use of the tools seems to engage then in a way that drawing with pen and paper doesn't.
Having said that though the tools are designed in a way to be simple and 'non' distracting so that the concentration is on the task and not the tool.
The tools are designed so that all can see the results-it allows for teachers and other students to review and observe.
The tools are generative-they can be reviewed and used again and again. They can be built upon and added to over time.
They are open-ended and not limited by content. I have used the tools with students in early years and middle years for science, for english, for integrated studies.
It's all about visually representing thinking and actively contructing ideas and meaning.