Analyze Apply Create Evaluate History Language Arts Middle/High School Primary Elementary Science Secondary Elementary Teacher Resources Understand (describe, explain) web tools Websites

Pinball: Bounce Ideas Around

What it is: Pinball is a neat site from the BBC that helps students kick-start new ideas to get thoughts flowing and develop creative talents. There are four tools that will help students brainstorm and bounce ideas around. Dot Dash is for firing out ideas, start with a main idea and branch out with connected ideas in a web.  Drop Zone is for making quick decisions, add ideas, name the zones, click “go”.  As ideas speed by, quickly make a decision and select a zone; analyze the results.  Snap Shot lets kids play with images; here they can upload an image or select a random image or word in “Lucky Dip” and then use the tools to play with the idea. Students can reflect, rotate, scale, bend, erase or cut an image or word to get different effects.  Wild Reels is for mixing up ideas.  Students can create reels of images and words, then they can label the reels.  When the ideas are all in, the ideas can be “spun” to see what combination comes up.  In each of the tools, the results can be “flipped” to another Pinball tool.  Each tool allows students to think about a subject and explore ideas they may have about the subject.

How to integrate Pinball into your curriculum: Pinball is a fantastic tool to help kids think through their ideas for writing, research, science hypothesis, making connections in their learning, brainstorming, and fleshing out ideas.  Each tool is designed to let students think visually in a way that lets their ideas flow freely.  The integration of one tool with another is really helpful for transferring loosely related thoughts into a more cohesive thought process.  Pinball can be used for whole class thinking with an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  For example, as students read about a time period in history, and related events, they can use Dot Dash to show how the events and people are related.  Students can each add to the class understanding of the time period.  Drop Zone would be a great way for students to generate ideas for a creative writing, or journal project.  Students can enter the ideas they have and let Drop Zone help them decide which to write about.  Bookmark Pinball on classroom computers so that students can use them as an inspiration station center.  Any time your students need to bounce ideas around or think through their learning visually they can visit Pinball and work through their ideas.  Pinball would also be helpful for structuring thinking prior to a research report, or science experiment.  If you have access to a computer lab or 1-to-1 setting, allow your students time to think about their learning and connect new learning to knowledge frameworks they have already built.  The possibilities with these tools are endless.

Tips: Pinball offers links to additional thinking tools that are available on the web including Exploratree, Mind Tools,, Aviary, Mind 42, and Wisemapping.  Each of these tools is fantastic for mind mapping, creative thinking, brainstorming, and visualizing ideas.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Pinball in your classroom!

Founder of Anastasis Academy, The Learning Genome Project, 5Sigma Education Conference, tech integration specialist, instructional coach, writer, dreamer.

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