Spice Up Your IL Instruction with SpicyNodes

Mind mapping helps us externally organize information that’s more in line with the way we internally process information.  It’s a great strategy for helping students meaningfully explore and plan their research assignments. It helps them more easily identify information needs and connections between concepts.

One of my new favorite tools for mind mapping is SpicyNodes. The AASL thought it was so good that they named it a 2011 Best Website for Teaching and Learning.


  • It’s web-based.
  • Individual accounts are free, and you have the option of signing up through an existing Google or Yahoo account.
  • Plans for organizations are $24 a month, and include higher levels of security and collaboration options. I think that’s a worthy investment if you decide to integrate it regularly into your instruction.
  • A Teacher’s Guide and some sample lesson plans are available through the website.

How students can use SpicyNodes:

  • Students can add images, YouTube videos, and external links to individual nodes.
  • Students can annotate concepts and include resources that they plan on using in their research assignment throughout the nodemap.
  • Students can share their nodemaps through live links or embedded code.

How librarians can use SpicyNodes:

  • Librarians can use Spicynodes as an alternative assignment to the annotated bibliography.
  • Librarians can use Spicynodes as a whole class activity to illustrate the research process.
  • Librarians can use Spicynodes as a resource guide for assignments and courses.

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