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Inspiration 7.

Tom Snyder Productions (80 Coolidge Hill Rd., Watertown, MA 02472-5003, 800-342-0236; Macintosh or Power Macintosh, Sys. 7.1, 8.0, 9.0 or OS X, 2 MB, 5 MB avail, hard drive, 30 MB for full install; Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT 4.0, ME, or XP, 486 min., 8MB, 5 MB avail, hard drive, 20 MB for full install; for both: 256 colors, CD-ROM drive. Optional: printer, Internet browser, microphone. CD-ROM disk, user's guide, template guide. 1 computer, $69.00; 10 computers, $550.00; 100 computers, $2,800.00. JSA*

This latest edition of Tom Snyder's brainstorming, diagramming, and outlining software was literally greeted with open arms when I brought it into the school library where I work. Even students unfamiliar with earlier versions were able to figure out how to use it right away to help them organize their ideas and create outlines for term papers. I tried it with 8th graders, but an experienced teacher told me that she has used it with great success from 4th grade through college-age students, commenting that it is particularly successful with visual learners (Kidspiration, for grades K-5, is also available).

Essentially, this is a graphical organizer, enabling users to create concept webs and maps in the Diagram View mode, with the aid of over 1300 symbols, if they like; at the click of a button, this information is reorganized into outline form, in the Outline View mode. It's easy and fun to play around with, and it's a snap to create new links and to reorganize information in various forms. New features in version 7 include the ability to include notes as an element in the diagram mode; to hyperlink to any file, in Inspiration or any other application; and to record audio and attach it to a symbol or topic, hear the computer read aloud text, or choose a talking interface. There is also an attractive and easy-to-use new interface, and a helpful Template Wizard that helps users create and save templates. In addition, there are more than 50 built-in templates, such as literary comparison, historical period, hypothesis proof, lesson plan, research strategy, and Venn diagram. Diagrams no longer awkwardly expand to two pages when they get longer or wider, but instead helpfully appear on one screen. Web sites can also easily be created using the Site Skeleton export. Files created with earlier editions can be opened by Inspiration 7; installation doesn't overwrite earlier versions, so that custom templates and symbol libraries that have been created aren't lost.

This software is a real boon for teachers and students alike with visual or aural learning styles, and it's a great way to show students (or anyone) how to move easily from brainstorming ideas to an organized plan to help them get started on projects. For all school libraries, and for skill centers as well.
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Author:Rohrlick, Paula
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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