I have used wallwisher before with year 3/4 and 1/2 students. I have used it as a brainstorming tool in a whole class session where students posted comments about what they already know about an inquiry topic. I have also used it for a homework task where students had to comment on the site for homework. It is a great program for visualising thinking as you can record comments from the whole class about a particular topic almost instantly. Much better than just writing a list on the board!
Visual Thinking Tools:
Gliffy looks like a great tool for mind mapping. It is very easy to use and offers a lot of options. It would be a great tool for any age group. I really like how it has lots of graphic organisers such as Venn Diagrams, Swimlanes and Flow Charts. It is not just a mindmapping tool, it offers so much more.
I have used Bubbl.us before. It is a very simple mindmapping tool that works well as it is easy to use. From what I have seen so far Bubbl.us doesn’t seem to offer as many options as Gliffy. This can be a benefit if you don’t want the students to get distracted from basic mindmapping but also limits its uses.
I love Essay Map. I think this would be a fantastic tool to use with students in Year 3 and up. At the moment I work with Year 1/2′s and feel essays might be a little to tricky for them especially because it has so many steps involved. I will definitely be keeping Essay Map bookmarked for when I move up to a higher year level!
My favourite visual thinking tool would be Gliffy as this is a tool I have never used before and I think it has the most potential. I really like how it has so many options and it seems as though I will be able to publish projects onto my class blog. I also like how you can collaborate with other people on a project. I think this tool would be useful when planning an inquiry unit with my level. We could all share our ideas for understandings/questions to cover and keep adding to it after the meeting is finished. It would also be a good tool to use in staff meetings when you wanted to get staff collaborating on a particular topic. There would be no need to collate all the responses from different groups if we all add to the same project.
Google for Educators:
Google for Educators looks promising. I like how everything is very easy to understand and it gives information on how the tools can be used in education. I will need more time to play around with some of the tools but I can already see that it will be useful. From what I have used so far of the Google suit I think that Google Docs is probably the most useful tool for me in my classroom and in level planning. It is a great tool for collaboration and I have seen it used to gather information from all around the world using a public document and Twitter. Google Reader is a very useful tool for professional learing. It allows me to keep track of all the blogs I follow as well as any website that regularly posts interesting information.