When curriculum is Universally Designed from the beginning, you need to find tools to help you accomplish your goals before teaching takes place. Much thought is given to specific teaching methods, but in order for learning to take place, prior knowledge needs to be activated. In my opinion, this is an area where many of us struggle (including myself).

Why is it a struggle?

Activating prior knowledge is nothing new. Many teachers turn to brainstorming tools to activate this knowledge. Some turn to conversation. Others scrap paper. Some technology. Often these choices are limited, because they only help a certain type of learner, which is usually the student who can read and write well.

SpiderScribe is one of the best mind-mapping sites that I have come across, in my quest to find a way of brainstorming to reach all types of learners.

You need to have a log in and password to get started. It reminds me of Google Docs, in the sense that you can make your mind map private or share with a group of people, simply by providing a link. Users cannot make changes without permissions or having a username and password.

It even has a demo, which you can use to experiment and see how it works. I would highly recommend doing so.

Where does it fit in with UDL?

Creating opportunities for students to have Multiple Means of Representation is important when trying to connect concepts and activate prior knowledge. SpyderScribe allows users to add pictures, word documents, text, maps, and even calendars to their map.

Imagine the possibilities...Students are brainstorming what they know about France and they place a map of Paris in the map. When they do this, they learn where the Eifle Tower is and where popular tourist sites are located. The visual learners in your classroom place pictures of Paris in the map. Another student, who enjoys writing, attaches a report that she did about Napoleon from another class.

SpyderScribe gets past the text, which we can create on a piece of paper, and allows visual learners the ability to enjoy mind mapping!

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