4/22/2008 By: Carol S. Holzberg, PhD
from Technology & Learning
Kidspiration 3 is to grades K-3 what the visual learning software Inspiration is to older students. While its new math activities address Kâ€“5 math skills, the program's graphical interface will appeal to younger children.
Company: Inspiration Software, Inc. (www.inspiration.com)
System Requirements: 266 MHz or faster (Windows) or 300 MHz or faster (Macintosh); OS X version 10.2.9 or later; Windows 98 or later; 192MB RAM or more (Macintosh); 128MB RAM or more (Windows).
Price/Grade: $69-$895; K-5.
Pros: Five math tools support visual, auditory, and tactile learning styles; kid-friendly interface; rich multi-activity learning environment.
Cons: The program doesn't read aloud words placed inside math text boxes; only one file open at a time.
New with this version is a Math View, featuring five interactive, kid-friendly tools supporting K-5 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points. Math activities target problem solving, reasoning, and critical thinking in numbers and operations (for whole numbers and fractions), geometry (angles, orientation, and both 2-D and 3-D shapes), measurement (including area and length), and even algebra (multiples, factors, patterns, and number sequences).
Math View tools permit students to have multiple pages in a single document. With this feature, they can solve problems in different ways. Additionally, before youngsters choose to work with a particular math tool, they can click the Use Steps box on the Math Tools menu so they can show each problem-solving step as they work through an assignment. When teachers prepare a custom math activity for their students, they can lock one or more items in the workspace to prevent students from altering the layout. A workspace math activity area allows for self-paced, open-ended exploration. A completed math activity can be exported as a bit-mapped image, GIF, JPEG, or HTML file.
To support tactile learning, Kidspiration 3 invites youngsters to represent ideas by dragging colorful pictures, photos, and animated images from symbol libraries into the program's Picture View or Math View workspaces. With the new Math Tools, students can drag and drop digital color tiles and pattern blocks. To support auditory learning, the software will read most text aloud. When students place the pointer on a toolbar tool or menu item in any view, the program identifies the item by reading it aloud. Users also can record words or narration for audio feedback.
Kidspiration online teacher resources provide additional literacy, social studies, science, and math activities.
Kidspiration 3 has it all—Web diagrams, idea maps, writing tools, and math manipulatives—neatly bundled in a colorful, user- friendly digital learning environment that helps youngsters both learn and practice standards-based lesson content.
Carol S. Holzberg, PhD, is a technology coordinator for Greenfield Public Schools in Massachusetts. You can reach her at email@example.com.