WHAT IS VISUWORDS?
Visuwords is an online graphical dictionary where users can look up words to find their relationships to other words. The website produces diagrams in a mind-map fashion that show associations between words. Each node of the mind-map is a word, which can be clicked on to discover its meaning, additional word associations, synonyms and antonyms. A detailed description of connections can be found on the homepage, as different associations are delineated by different colors or patterns. The mind-map is interactive, and allows users to pan, zoom, click and drag for further exploration.
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WHO REVIEWED VISUWORDS?
For my intermediate visual arts students, we began to investigate the powerful connections that exist between word, image, and narrative. By utilizing randomly selected sentence stems, learners were prompted to create meaning by completing unfinished thoughts and dialogue, combining sentence fragments with randomly selected and unusual words. The completed narrative became a prompt for the creation of an illustration. Ultimately, both written narrative and image appeared together upon a page, pages were block printed and collated. Using traditional book making techniques, every student walked away with a hand bound book of original block prints and imaginatively constructed written narrative.
High school students LOVED this resource from the start. They enjoyed the very dynamic visual metaphors and figured out meanings well before “older” teachers did! Hands down, my kids preferred this over the online dictionary and thesaurus.
I used this resource to introduce my class to an evolution unit. I typed in evolution and traced the various paths presented to form a guide map to the unit we are about to cover.
Students thought that the visual representation was very interesting but when asked if they would use this on their own, most said they wouldn’t. The classes were advanced students, however, and therefore less likely to need additional assistance. This seems to be a great resource for English vocabulary but it is not very strong in scientific terms for advanced classes. If my class had easier access to the internet during the class period, I think I would use this as a way to shape essays on concepts.
TIPS FOR CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATION:
- It helps to have laptop computers so students can work in small groups rather than projecting it on a screen.
- Introducing students to the resource by pairing up at a single screen works better than individually – students tend to explore the resource a bit deeper when they are paired.
- Encourage learners to experiment with different words to learn what the resource would do – the sillier the words, the more deeply learners tended to engage.