Common Core and Connected Educators: October Themes at Inspiration


October is here, teacher fans! Even if you’re not facing strong winds and heavy rains like we are in Oregon, chances are you’re feeling fall in the air.

This month is often filled with celebrations of things that scare us, culminating in Halloween and the bags of candy parents work so hard to regulate. But there’s one thing we think teachers shouldn’t have to be scared of: Common Core.

Top 5 Tips: Inspiration 9 and Students with Specific Learning Difficulties


Eliminate barriers to learning. This is an often-faced challenge for special needs students and their teams of parents, teachers and aides. Here are five tips to customize Inspiration 9 for the special needs student.

#5: Eliminate issues of visual stress

It’s very common for students with Specific Learning Difficulties to suffer from visual stress, particularly when working with a white canvas. To eliminate this, Inspiration 9 gives students the ability to easily customize the color palette and choose a background color they’re more comfortable with. Simply right-click on the mouse and choose ‘Background Color’ to create a softer backdrop.

Changing the Background Color

Changing the Background Color


#4: Re-discover the locations of Notes

As a default in Inspiration 9, once you click away from a note the notes icon will disappear. This can sometimes disorientate a student once she has several notes associated with different symbols. This results in the question, “Which symbols actually have notes?”

To keep notes permanently in view, go to View -> Quick Controls -> Always Show. This will permanently show all the notes icons.

Always Show Notes

Always Show Notes


#3: Use audio with Text-to- Speech

This built-in feature of Inspiration 9 allows text associated with symbols and notes to be read back to the user. This is great for auditory learners and students looking to work at their own pace. To use text-to-speech, just click on the following button in the main toolbar:

Text-To-Speech Tool

If the student can’t see the “Listen” icon, enable it by having him go to Utility -> Preferences -> Audio Tool and then click ‘Listen Tool’.


#2 Quickly capture ideas using the Record Sound tool

This tool is a great quick ‘ideas’ capture tool for students who are reluctant writers or suffer from limited memory capacity issues. Each recording can last up to 60 seconds and is attached to a specific symbol.

To enable this feature go to: Utility -> Preferences–> Audio Tool and the click ‘Record Sound’.
To add a recording to a symbol, right click on the mouse and choose Insert Video or Sound -> Record Sound.

And #1 is. . .


Ask for “Help”!

It isn’t uncommon for a student to be burning the midnight oil on an assignment and get stuck on how to use a particular feature in Inspiration–but his tutor isn’t awake or available! Help is at hand, though, in the form of over sixty short video tutorials included with Inspiration 9.

Focused on specific features of Inspiration (e.g. ‘Using the RapidFire Tool’), these resources are available within the software. As long as students are online, they can access these 2-minute videos by going to ‘Learn to Use’ in the starter menu and choosing ‘Training Videos’.

Training Videos

“Help” Videos Library

We hope you find these tips useful. Use the comments section to share your own!

Back to School, Part 2! September Themes at Inspiration

Happy September, readers!

Today is the first day of school here in Oregon, and we’re excited to be kicking off the year with you!

Last month we gave you a teaser of Kidspiration Maps–but there’s so much more to see! Check out just a few of the colorful activities that make up our newest learning tool:

Want to read more about Kidspiration Maps? Take a look at the reviews posted by Jamie Martin of the Kildonan School as well as Brian Meersma of the Assistive Technology Blog. . .then head to the App Store and get your own copy!

September is about more than Kidspiration Maps, though. We recognize that the beginning of school is an exciting time, filled with possibilities and new students to guide! In the school year to come you’ll see our continuing commitment to producing tools that make instruction easier for teachers–and learning more engaging for students! Some things to look forward to include:

*COMMON CORE HELP: Twenty-two states (including our Washingtonian neighbors to the north) are adopting the Common Core State Standards this year, and we’re on board too! Inspiration’s visual learning tools and graphic organizers give students (and teachers) new, engaging ways to tackle the standards.

*INSPIRATION MAPS UPDATE: Look for some great changes coming to our original iPad app! You asked and we listened in order to make the ultimate graphic organizing app even more user friendly.

*CONTESTS AND PRIZES: We want you to “Inspire Us” here at Inspiration! Submit a student diagram created with any of our products and you could win either a Kidspiration or Inspiration prize pack!

Don’t let us keep you from icebreakers and name tags any longer, though–have a great September!

Signing off from Inspiration HQ,

Stephanie H.

Back To School, Part One! August Themes at Inspiration

Don’t get us wrong, Thinkspiration readers–we’re enjoying our summer too. But in the distance we can see the start of a bright new school year, and we want to make sure you’re prepared for it!

August is all about introducing you to the newest member of the Inspiration Software, Inc ® products family: Kidspiration Maps ™! With over 1,000 symbols, dozens of pre-made activities and great features like sound recording, Kidspiration Maps is the perfect tool to kick off Fall 2013 right. 

GUEST POST (3 of 3): Inspiration & Specific Learning Difficulty

We’ve reached the final installment in Andy Clarke’s series on uses of Inspiration 9 in writing. Enjoy! 

Inspiration & Specific Learning Difficulty: Why does visual learning benefit students with disabilities?

In my first two articles (Exploring the Basics of Writing  and Writing from the Student Perspective) I talked about the fundamentals of writing, first in general and then more specifically within academia. Throughout both articles I touched on the needs of students experiencing a specific learning difficulty (SpLD), highlighting some of the challenges professionals have in both identifying these students’ needs and subsequently providing support within an academic framework.

In this article I want to explore why visual learning tools are recommended as part of a typical technological support package for students with SpLD. What is it that these tools offer? What makes them valuable as learning and writing aids? And most importantly, why are they especially important for this particular group of learners?

GUEST POST (2 of 3): Writing From the Student Perspective

This is the second installment in Inspiration’s guest post series by Assistive Technology Consultant Andy Clarke. Enjoy!

Writing From The Student Perspective: What Is Required In Higher Education, and How Can Inspiration Help?

In my last article Exploring the Basics of Writing, I talked about how writing for me is made up of “ideas and structure” – and that the academic writer is required to make regular, pertinent and informed points, based on research and directed by a question or brief.

For a number of years now I have never let a chat with a teacher, lecturer or professor go by without asking what they believe the main challenges are for their first year students, and what if anything was evident to them from the work of students experiencing specific learning difficulties. In order to assist students, I’ve always found it useful to get a good overall picture of the challenges they face and (perhaps just as important) the expectations and observations of the academics who ultimately grade their submissions.

Independence and Ideas: July Themes at Inspiration

Hello, Thinkspiration Readers!

July’s arrived in a big way here in Portland, and we hope it’s warm where you are too! Now that we’re back from ISTE 2013 we can get down to the serious business of summer fun.

GUEST POST: Exploring the Basics of Writing–With the Help of Inspiration

This is the first in a series of 3 posts about assistive technology for students with learning disabilities. Read more about Inspiration’s DSA/SEN programs here!

By Andy Clark, Assistive Technology Consultant, UK

Question: Why do we write?

Looking Back and Moving Forward: June Themes at Inspiration

Happy June, Thinkspiration readers!

Summer is finally here, and that means a big shift in roles for everyone involved in education. Teachers go from full classroom management to professional development, parents masterfully shift their schedules, and most importantly students head out to meet the world on their own time!

Thus as we reach the close of the school year, it’s important to us at Inspiration to reflect on where we’ve been. 

Maps and Multimedia: May Themes At Inspiration

Happy May Day, Thinkspiration readers!

Along with May flowers, this month we’re focusing the attention on our award-winning mobile learning tool–an app that aids in brainstorming, visibly improves writing and helps busy professionals stay organized on the go.

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