Review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2013

Spicynodes

Handy tool for mapping info can support a range of learning styles

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

Take a look inside

5 images

Pros: The maps themselves are modern and wonderful to navigate through.

Cons: Getting started is tricky; because you don't enter data directly onto the map, it seems like there's an extra step.

Bottom Line: Kids can break down complex subjects into smaller bites, and the fun food theme is appealing.

You can use SpicyNodes to create presentations for your students, or snag a pre-created node that works with your lesson plan. Kids who have a difficult time visualizing concepts could really benefit from the radial layout, and assigning projects using SpicyNodes may help students see information in a different way. Using SpicyNodes can help kids with learning differences feel more confident taking notes or absorbing information; it's a way of presenting that could really open doors for some kids.

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SpicyNodes is a website that can be used to create mind maps, take notes, write a story, or capture any information that lends itself to a non-linear presentation. You'll begin by adding content into separate nodes using a database-like interface. Content can include plain text, images, video, or audio, which you can upload or snag from the Internet. Things look pretty technical at this point, but you can always click Preview to view how your info will look in the actual nodemap. Once a map has been developed, you can fly around it, zooming in on nodes and exploring info.

Once you finish a node, you can save it to your SpicyNodes account. Nodes can be kept private, published to the public Gallery, or posted to various social media outlets. The Gallery includes nodes created for educational purposes that are free to share and use.

It's a little tricky to figure out at first, but once you create a simple nodemap, the possibilities of SpicyNodes are clear. The radial layout can clarify ideas, and its zoom features makes sure that the ideas further from the center aren't teeny tiny. There are also a ton of pre-made nodes created by teachers and other users that run from totally helpful to just plain cool, from the experimental poem "As Dawn Rises" to an outline of calendar systems. The "spicy" food theme is kind of a stretch, but it does add warmth to what could be a cut-and-dry mapping tool.

Kids can learn how to think a little differently as they experiment with presenting and analyzing information in a non-linear manner. They'll gather up ideas, sources, and supporting evidence to surround a main topic and figure out which concepts branch off in which places. SpicyNodes makes it possible for users to share ideas in a way that feels a little funny at first but proves to be a natural, intuitive approach. There may be some frustration at first as kids work out how maps are designed, and once they get that, there may still be some challenges organizing info this way. But it's a great mind-expander, and some kids will respond to it right away.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

If kids have programming experience, they might have slightly more fun than the average user, but anyone can find the website engaging. Design is cute and inviting. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

As kids enter information into separate nodes that will add up to a radial map, they'll expand their concept of how information is organized. This experience can easily transfer to future presentation use.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

It takes some guidance to get going, but the creators have provided a lot of help and examples. It also supports most languages and aims to be accessible to non-linear learning styles.


Common Sense Reviewer
Polly Conway Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Michelle P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Outstanding Graphic Organizer Resource for Students and Leaders
Spicy Nodes takes learning to a new level and can help students move up the ladder of Blooms Taxonomy through the use of the application. Students can use the tool to collect and organize information, apply what they have learned to a topic or essential question, use the tool to present information to an authentic audience, or even use it for reflection. The tool is flexible and easy to set up and can be accessed and shared by multiple people. Student teams can use it for presentations on their current learning and can share it with a larger community audience to show what they have learned through their studies on a project.
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