Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tips of the trade

Visuwords is one of several interactive thesaurus applications that I’ve seen made available via the web. The basic concept of a visual thesaurus is to provide people with an interactive, online way to explore words and related words. After playing with the application, I’ve developed a few immediate uses for it in the classroom in conjunction with word study or vocabulary activities.

Visuwords can be:

(1) Used as a dictionary---If you hover over the key search word, it will provide a definition.

(2) Used to help locate related or word substitutes (synonyms) as in a typical thesaurus.

(3) Used for Grammar, Usage and Mechanics reinforcement. The color coding in the circle shows the part of speech of each word, Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb. Students can recognize when a word WILL fit in a sentence as it is a similar part of speech, and when it will not.

(4) Used to give a great deal of exposure to process words like, is an instance of, is similar to, pertains to, attributes, opposes.

(5) A method for providing “also see” options that allow them to explore similar words.

(6) A way of exposing users to attributes which can reinforce character trait exploration in reading studies. i.e., other words for friendly include: congenial, social, companionable, affable, amiable.

(7) Used to show the derivation of a word which will help with word studies and word roots.

(8) Used to show opposites which can lead to a discussion of antonyms.

(9) Used to show word roots and the relationships between words with Latin and Greek roots.

What's Bing ?

A search engine called Bing.

Quite frankly, with a well built PLN (Personal Learning Network) and access to a wealth of well searched links through Diigo, I’ve found myself using Google less and less.
The images they’ve presented have been stunning. The images expose us to landmarks, creatures, traditions and other amazing sights from around the world. But the pictures are more than just a picture, they are informative and interactive. As you hover your mouse around different sections of the photos, Bing has embedded links to factual information about the pictures. Links that direct you sites related to the images.

As an educator I think I’ve decided what to do about this new tool that has been provided to me. Bing seems to be a terrific step in that direction. Presenting an image from Bing on a regular basis in the classroom, and sharing with students the facts associated with those photos would be a great way to expand their world. Whether I encourage them to explore it independently and provide them with an essential question to research, or simply expose them to the site and image routinely I believe it has value as an educational tool.

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