16
November

Thank you, BIT2017!

We just got back from Bring IT Together 2017, Ontario’s leading educational technology conference. We have been so busy getting ready for it that we forgot the ‘let’s meet and greet’ post. Still, we came back eager to share this great experience with you.

The conference, which by the way has been running annually since 1979, was held in beautiful Niagara Falls, a vibrant city where we enjoyed all the amenities of a large urban center in a comfortable, livable community.

There were three days jam-packed with keynotes, breakout sessions, training sessions and a buzzing Learning Hall.
Most importantly, it has been a priceless experience because we got the chance to meet our users and the people we’d like to collaborate. No more struggling with email ping-pong in different time zones. No more names without a face. We were indeed overwhelmed by all the positive feedback and suggestions we got, and this feeling wouldn’t have been so tangible if #BIT2017 didn’t bring us all together.

Our special thanks go to:

– Mark W. Carbone and Pierre Sarazin for the warmest welcome
– one of our dearest teacher users, Dr. Fred Schadler, who came all the way from South Carolina, United States, just to meet us
– all the educators that passed our booth and attended our Thursday presentation
– last but not least, all the great people who shared their ed-tech expertise with us

BIT2017, it has been quite a ride, thank you!

The Mindomo Team

 

 

26
October

Get kids with learning and attention issues in the mood for Halloween

This time of the year gets everyone excited because the arrival of fall also means that Halloween is coming. Each year there are approximately 41.2 million kids who dress up and go trick-or-treating.

While Halloween might be fun for most kids, there will always be a few exceptions. For example, kids with learning and attention difficulties. These kids might be more scared of this holiday than excited due to their oversensitivity.

So, let’s see what you can do to make Halloween fun for them too:

  1. Costumes: The unusual clothing, the sensation of masks and the makeup can be a huge problem for kids with learning and attention issues. What you can do is have kids wear the costumes before the big day so they can get comfortable with them. If not, there is still time to switch the costume to something more comfortable, simpler.
  1. Treats! It is an unchangeable tradition to give to trick-or-treaters candies, sweets. With all these temptations, kids are most likely to overdo it. Moreover, for children with learning and attention issues, controlling temptations can be especially difficult because they are overly excited. What you can do is make an arrangement with them before the big day. Let kids choose 3 or 4 candies which they can eat that day, putting aside all the rest. Also, you can trade some candy in return for some toys or non-candy treats ( pizza, pumpkin pie).
  1. The actual trick-or-treating: running from house to house, creepy street decorations, Jack-o’-lanterns can be also a problem. These kids’ hypersensitivity may make them take the scary scenarios way too seriously.

In this case, consider going to some centers or malls which offer a more controlled trick-or-treating experience. Also, in-house small Halloween parties can be arranged at school. This way, kids will experience the comfort of knowing one another.

If you tick off these few things on your list, it’s more likely that this year’s Halloween to be an unforgettable, exciting day for kids despite their oversensitivity.

Keep it smart, simple and creative!
The Mindomo Team

31
August

Basics on Creating an Essay Outline

Writing good essays will definitely help you get through school. Writing outlines first makes the essay writing process easier and better organized because an outline provides a structure. The outline for an essay is like the skeleton for the body. As you probably know, there are many outlining tools to help you.  Mindomo also has an outlining functionality, apart from the mind mapping and concept mapping ones.

Mindomo gives you two possibilities: 

1. To turn your maps into outlines.  Create a Blank Mind Map if your ideas come into your mind in a chaotic way and you can’t put them in order from the beginning. Having all your ideas on the same page will help you see the connections in between, and you can organize them later on. Use the mouse+click to drag the topics on the map canvas. To disconnect a topic press CTRL while dragging. To connect it to another topic just drag it close until a red connecting line appears.

When you are done organizing your ideas, turn your mind map into an outline.

2. To create outlines from scratch. Go to Create from your dashboard and select Outline if you already have a clue on how you want to structure your essay add a title, then click on Create again.
Congratulations, you’ve just created an outline, which, at this stage, is basically a blank page.
Press Enter to get started with the first point. This should be the subject of your essay. Most of times this is given by your teacher, other times you can choose it by yourself. Also, you have to decide if you agree or you don’t with the subject and why.

To add a subtopic Press Enter, then the Tab key. Here you should write your approach, whether your essay will be a narrative, chronological, or instructive one. However you decide, write it down, this will be your thesis statement. Keep in mind that a good impression of the first paragraph makes the reader interested and curious about the essay. So try to make your paragraph clear, concise and engaging.

To add two or three main arguments/phrases that confirm your thesis, you need to change the indent back, which you can do with SHIFT+TAB keys.

Use the arrows to navigate between the lines, go up with the up-arrow to your first argument, then (with Enter and Tab) add a few statements to support it. Here you can use the information you got from studies, researches, quotes etc.

To avoid misconceptions about plagiarism, note citations and mention the resources where you got your info from. You can add notes to the topics with SHIFT+ENTER and you can exit the notes editing with the same keys.

Now that you have the core base of your essay, you have to compose nice round phrases out of the sub points and write transition sentences to introduce each paragraph. Naturally, you’ll need a conclusion too. This has to confirm your first topic in a way that concludes your essay.

The last paragraph is as important as the first, so make it convincing so that the reader will understand and agree with your argument.

 

Keep it smart, simple and creative!
The Mindomo Team

26
July

Easy ways to make blended learning work for your class

The technological revolution began when things like traveling, food production and medicine were becoming more and more time-consuming and harder to achieve. Now, the 21st century is fully digital, and blended learning acknowledges this and the fact that the ways we work, socialize and learn are constantly changing. We are now used to receiving a continuous stream of digital information at a fast pace and incorporating it into our daily working and social lives – so why should the classroom be any different?

In this fast-changing and continuously evolving environment blended learning fits perfectly.

But what exactly is blended learning ? The best way to think of blended learning is to see it as an additional element to the classroom and one which supports existing teaching practices. In short, it’s an instructional method which combines technology with traditional face-to-face instruction (personalized learning, social interaction and direct contact with the language).

If you never tried it before, here are some top blended learning activities you can easily introduce in the classroom:

 

  1.  Virtual debate

Age: middle school or late elementary school

Develops: critical thinking skills

How? You can give an “expert” view on a topic, then give time for the student to research on the subject. Finally, ask them to create a virtual debate which can be a written article, a video response or a fictional debate where a classmate plays the “expert” role.

 

    2.  Foreign language classroom

Age: middle school or late elementary school

Develops: language learning skills while students are getting involved in languages using online resources.

How? Groups your students in groups of 3, 4. Their task is to create a dialog.

To make it more fun, play a video without any sounds, and let your students use their imagination to create funny dialogs for the video.

In the end, play the video while students will dub their own dialogs. I’ll assure you it will be an easy, funny way to learn a new language.

 

  1.  Mind Map assignments

Age: primary school and onwards

Develops: the ability to find major concepts and categorize them accordingly, plus identifying the connections between concepts and ideas.

How? Ask your students to create mind maps about a certain topic, either individually or in groups. Students will have to do some research on the topic, and you can also give them guidelines, even a guide mind map with a few details on what to focus on. You can insert links to resource pages, explanations in form of voice recordings, videos, etc. It’s a known fact that every student has its own pace and capacity of learning, so this method will let you deliver a more personalized teaching.

 

Choosing a good blended learning method and the tool to implement it can be quite a challenge: it has to be affordable, reliable and easy-to -use. You might also want to pay attention whether the tool you chose integrates with popular learning management systems – D2L, Canvas, Moodle. This way students can have all activities and all assignments in the same platform.

One more thing before you get started: introducing blended learning should be about improving your class and enhance the way your students learn. If you need any help with the mind mapping activities, just drop us a line.

 

Keep it smart, simple and creative!
The Mindomo Team

12
June

Easy morning routines that anybody can master

In everyday life, we are often required to be innovative and creative but in some areas, routine can be the thing that sets a difference.  

You might ask how successful people got where they are, and if you start looking for answers, you’ll find out that they have strong morning routines. This is important mainly because it gives you the chance to set the tone of your day. A good morning results in a good day, this way your productivity will increase and you will have the necessary energy you need throughout the day.

Great philosopher Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, is a habit.” And he was right. Let’s take for example a successful sportsman whose performance depends on practice. This means that he has to repeat the same move over and over again, until his muscles will remember it and it becomes an automatic action for the body, leaving space to the mind to focus on perfecting it.

Same thing happens with morning routines, they can be very soliciting until we get used to them, but in reality they are a chance to prevent the day from failure. We have some easy tips and tricks you might just want to turn into habits:

 

  1. Wake up early – it may sound corny but the early bird gets the worm. If you wake up earlier, you will have more time to do all the stuff you need to get done. Now, you don’t have to force yourself to wake up at dawn, but if you are a late riser, try at least to move forward the hour of waking up with 10 minutes. After you get used to it, move again with another 10 minutes and so on.

  2. Never skip breakfast – even cars need gas to function, so why would you expect your body to get you through the day without nourishment. Remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day so kind to your system and give the necessary food.

  3. Small pieces of happiness – it’s not enough to feed your body, you need to feed your mind and soul too. Make time every morning to do something that makes you happy: sipping a cup of coffee in complete silence, watching inspirational videos, reading a few quotes, talking to your loved ones the phone, petting animals, whatever works for you.

  4. Exercise – The human body was designed for constant movement. Just think about our ancestors who didn’t have cars or supermarkets so they were walking a lot and they hunted for food. Unfortunately, nowadays we don’t move enough because we are prisoners of our own comfortable inventions. So knowing that your body needs a bit of help and motivation on the matter, try exercising on a daily basis, in your own limits: walk the dog,  stretch or run for 15 minutes. You will see that after making morning sport a habit, you won’t not be able to imagine your day without it.

  5. Plan the day – make a brief list of to dos, choose the most important thing and start with that. If you do the important job while you are still fresh and in shape, you will ease the pressure and manage to stay relaxed while dealing with the rest of the things.

 

All habits can be learned, it’s a matter of self-discipline. So the best thing you can do is to practice everyday until it becomes an automatism. What will be the first thing you’ll want to try?