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This module explores how to use bubbl.us in the classroom.
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Bubbl.us is a web 2.0 application to create mind maps. By accessing the website, anyone can begin to create a series of inter-connecting bubbles. The bubbles can be rearranged and color-coded to create webs, timelines, and charts. These maps can then be saved for future use, shared on the web, or printed out. The possibilities of using bubbl.us in the classroom are endless. Teachers can use the program to plan and brainstorm for lessons. They can create webs for students to print out or access online during class. Classes can work collaboratively to make mind maps as part of discussion, or individual students can even add to the same map from different computers at the same time. This tool can be used across many different subject areas for the organization of concepts, ideas, steps in a process, and vocabulary. This module will help you get started with using bubbl.us, provide examples of teachers already using bubbl.us in their classroom, and analyze when bubbl.us would most likely enhance learning.
1) Go to https://bubbl.us. From here you can choose to start brainstorming or create an account. While you can create a map without an account, you need an account in order to save your work or publish it for others to view and access.
2) Click “Start Brainstorming.” A bubble appears. You can start typing in the bubble, change text size, and change the color of the bubble.
· To type, simply click the bubble and begin to type.
· To change text size, hover over the bubble and click on the size adjustor. Use the arrows to make your text larger or smaller.
· To change the color of a bubble, hover over the bubble and click color. From there you can choose a color palette or create your own colors.
3) To create another bubble, you can either create a “child bubble” by clicking the icon on the bottom of your bubble or you can create an independent bubble by clicking on the icon on the right of your bubble.
4) Continue to create new bubbles as you need them. Bubbles can be moved around and rearranged by clicking and dragging. To assign a bubble to a new parent, simply drag it over top of the new parent bubble. The original bubble’s child bubbles will follow it. You can also draw arrows between bubbles by clicking the connect button and dragging to the next bubble you want to point to. Bubbles can also be easily deleted by clicking the delete button when hovering the mouse over a bubble.
5) As you grow more familiar with the program, there are a few more complex details to enhance your work.
· You can learn keyboard shortcuts to create new child bubbles, independent bubbles, and connecting arrows.
· The application also supports hyperlinks, just type in a full URL with your regular text. To include a description, follow the hyperlink with “[description text]”.
· List items can be made within a bubble by putting * at the beginning of a line.
· Text in between [b] and [/b] will become bold, between [i] and[/i] will become italicized, and between [h] and [h/] will be made into a larger, bold heading.
8) If you signed up for an account, you can save your work as you go. You can also choose from the dropdown menu of the “Save” button to have your work auto saved every five minutes. If you have saved your work, you can access it any time you sign into your account from any computer.
9) To share with others, simply click “Sharing.” A window opens to allow you to choose what sheet you want to share and with what other bubbl.us users you want to share it.
10) Finally, the sheet can be printed, or exported as an image file or HTML outline.
If you prefer a more visual mode of understanding how to get started with bubbl.us, teacher Jarrod Martin shares a video showing the basics. He also shares some ideas about how it can be used in the classroom. http://vimeo.com/6512550
11th grade English teacher Ben Davis used bubbl.us in his classroom to have students brainstorm and organize their ideas for a research paper. Since each student created an account, they were able to share their work with each other and Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis could then grade from his computer at home. The class also worked through several people’s ideas as part of a whole-class discussion using a projector. Ben Davis uses bubbl.us
Dave Dogson uses bubbl.us to help his English Language Learners develop vocabulary and organize plot structure. The class often works together with one vocabulary word at a time. They start with the word in the middle and then branch off with associated words. In this way, students develop a broader knowledge of each word instead of a simplistic definition. On another occasion, when students were struggling to understand a story, he created an outline map for them to fill together. After collaborating to flesh out the outline, he printed out the finished versions for the students to keep with their class notes. Check out this interview about how he uses Bubbl.us and this example on his personal blog about using Bubbl.us to help his students understand a story.
Ms. Laura, a middle school teacher, teaches her students to use bubbl.us to organize their ideas. She chose to create a class account and have each student create his or her own sheet to brainstorm for a research paper. Using a shared account minimized the amount of administrative work she needed to do and allowed all students to view each other’s work and provide feedback. She hopes to continue to use bubbl.us to allow students to organize their ideas for projects. Check out her assessment of the tool and some pictures of her students using bubbl.us here.
11th Grade English teacher Linda Squires uses a wiki to expose her students to various online resources. She hopes to encourage students to take charge of their own learning and investigate all the different tools available to them. Every time students write, Ms. Squires has the students plan out their essays. She suggests they use bubbl.us to plan their essays online. By planning online, students can share their ideas with the teacher and collaborate with other students. Another teacher, Mr. Kaiser, also observed a class using bubbl.us to plan their essays on To Kill a Mockingbird. He noted that students typically have difficulty organizing their ideas, but having an easy and fun system like bubbl.us helped them put their ideas in order. By visually representing their sequence of ideas as bubbles, students were better able to see ideas that did and did not work together. Read Mr. Kaiser’s brief assessment of his observations here.
· Users can rearrange their ideas even more easily than on paper.
· Bubbl opens doors for collaboration, allowing several students to be working on the same sheet at the same time, or access the sheet from another place.
· Students cannot lose their work in the same way that they might misplace a piece of paper.
· Sign-up is optional. Anyone can create a map just by going to the URL. This saves time and allows students to get right down to business.
· Bubbl.us is user friendly. Almost everything is intuitive, even showing images of what will be created when you click. This makes it easier for students to get the hang of. Students may even figure a lot of tricks out faster than their teacher!
· Options on bubbl.us are limited, meaning students will not spend their whole time trying to pick out the perfect font or image. Instead, they will stay focused on generating and organizing ideas.
· The work can be saved online, exported to a hard drive, or printed off, meaning students can have access to their ideas even when not at a computer.
· Requires both a computer and Internet connection. All students do not have access to computers at home or even classroom computers at school.
· Bubbl.us does not host images, nor is it very useful for presentations. There is no final viewing option until the sheet is exported. Until then, any sort of moving around the map might result in accidentally moving bubbles.
· Options for “dressing up” maps are limited. There are not any fancy backgrounds or archives of images. The tool is more geared towards organizing and brainstorming.
If you have ready access to computers in your classroom, Bubbl.us is a great tool to help students brainstorm and organize their ideas. Students can plan for an essay by creating a sequence of bubbles. Since they are not working with pen and paper, students can easily rearrange and delete bubbles as they go. Using the mind maps helps students easily visualize how ideas work together. Teachers can also use Bubbl.us to create a planning formula for students to use. For instance teachers could set up a map for a five-paragraph essay with sections within each paragraph for set-up, evidence, and explanation. Students can actually see the way the ideas for their final essay build off of one another. Bubbl.us also allows students to collaborate in several ways. Individuals can access a map at any time from different computers, even at the same time. So, students could work together to create a map or share individual maps with each other to get feedback. Teachers can also view and monitor student work when students share their maps. Take into consideration that students will need to have their own account or a class account in order to save work.
Even if you only have one computer in your classroom, Bubbl.us can be a great way to keep track of the evolution of class discussion. One student can be assigned the role of scribe for a few minutes at a time. At the end of a discussion, the finished web can be printed for students or saved online for later access by the class at home or in school. The teacher could also be in charge of creating the map as students discuss. In this way the teacher models to students how their ideas develop and evolve based on the contributions of other classmates.
Teachers can also use bubbl.us in their planning or to create materials for students. Teachers could plan collaboratively or use the program to visualize their independent planning. By using bubbl.us, teachers can easily save their work online for access at a later time on any computer. Teachers can also use bubbl.us to present key ideas from a lesson or to make graphic organizers for students to fill in by hand. If students cannot each have access to a computer, a teacher-created mind map will still help students visually organize information. Bubbl.us can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom.