Before we start ….
Quickly write down the different ways you
use to engage students in learning new
Do your students groan when they have
to look up a definition or try to find a
Tools for engaging students
Assistive technology is a great way to increase
student engagement in a classroom; especially
when its combined with student interest.
Assistive Technology is a combination of low tech, high
tech, and software that accesses learning and
demonstration of content.
What‟s great about?
By using assistive technology you can target specific
skills and content to meet individual learning needs.
Visual Thesauras – What is it?
I couldn’t say it better myself …
The Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary
and thesaurus which creates word maps that
blossom with meanings and branch to related
words. Its innovative display encourages
exploration and learning. You'll understand
language in a powerful new way.
A quick look
(when time permits you can click on the page below and it will take you to the website)
How it works
Visual Dictionary offers multiple benefits as it incorporates numerous
functions to meet the needs of a number of different learning styles.
That‟s a lot of bang for your buck!
Components and functions include:
Engaging visual display
Audio buttons for students to hear the words as well as see them
Side bar breaks words down into grammatical parts –
nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs
The Educator resources page is extensive providing teacher with great
ideas and lesson plans
There is a cost but it is very affordable - $20 per year
subscription. There is quote option if an institution wanted to
purchase this for a whole school.
The word „simple‟.
The interactive page allows students roll
over any word in the web, and find other
words and meanings
The word „simple‟
As well the side bar explains the word in depth, while
the top bar allows students to move forwards or
backwards to look at the words they‟ve explored.
Helping them to see the connections between words.
Apply it to your classroom
Take a minute and think about 2 students
you know who would benefit from using a
tool like Visual Thesaurus
How and why would it help them?
Who it helps
There are numerous applications for classroom use
and it benefits multiple learning styles and
intelligences. Here are just a few of the learners you
Receptive or Expressive Language Delays
Poor memory retention
Poor executive function –
organizing, timelines, etc.
English Language Learners
How I would use it
An interactive website like this is beneficial for a
whole class not only LD learners. Ways in which I
would incorporate this into my lessons are:
Use as part of a novel study activity – have
students look up unfamiliar words and create word
Daily Bellwork – have a word of the day that
students have to look up and print off pages to
add to a „new word book‟
Word of the day – in pairs have students find and
look up an unfamiliar word from the current class
focus and present the word to the class
Create word webs – see example on the next slide
Students can create their own low tech word
maps, helping to enlarge vocabulary and
understand the relationships between words
Classroom Blogs, Wikis, &
How creating your own class specific site supports
Why create a blog, wiki, or
Class specific wiki‟s helps to keep students on track
as due dates, assignments, and important info are all
organized and easy to access in one place.
Parents can stay on top of students workload and be
informed – this maintains open lines of
communication between teacher and parent.
Plus, no one can say they didn‟t know what their
child was suppose to be working on.
You can add functions like a chat or brainstorming
pages so students can support each other in their
What is the difference
A blog allows an author to create content and
provide information, upload links, and post images.
Posts tend to be shorter and informative. Viewers
can comment on content and add to discussion.
Blogs can be great platforms for discussion or
brainstorming. You can add gadgets like
calendars, popular posts, links to other social media
Wikisare a type of website that allows authors or co-
authors to create a space where you can post
documents, upload links and images, and can utilize
multiple types of widgets like chats or
IM, calendar, table of contents, etc.
Which one is better for you?
Which one is more useful? It depends on your purpose.
A wiki is interactive, and can be used to post assignments and
other documents that you want students to have access to.
You can create multiple pages for differing assignments or
units. As well as have creating group discussions and
A blog is great if you want to provide information that is easy
to access. Blogs are great for providing information to
parents, and keeping them up to date on what is happening
in your classroom. They don‟t offer as many options as a
wiki, but if your goal is simply to be informative then this may
be the one for you.
A number of sites now offer „Educational
templates‟ making it easy to create and
personalize your own site.
Most sites offer tutorials, quick tips, and
help functions making it easy to navigate
and build your own pages
There are a number of security options so
that you can control who has
access, monitor postings, and ensure the
safety of you and your students
Skills students build
By using a wiki in your classroom you‟re helping to develop
valuable skills that will increase your students learning.
o Build creativity skills, especially elaboration and fluency. Build
creative flexibility in accepting others‟ edits!
o Encourage “hitch-hiking” on ideas (a type of creative elaboration
and analytical thinking: If X is true, then what about Y?).
o Introduce and reinforce the idea that a creative piece as never
o Increase engagement of all students.
o In lieu of being passive “consumers” of their peers‟ presentations
(where they doze, doze and ignore), wiki makers
respond, respond, change, and improve.
o Culminating projects no longer have to end!!
o Develop interpersonal and communication skills, especially
consensus-building and compromise, in an environment where the
product motivates interpersonal problem-solving.
o Develop true teamwork skills.
o Improve the most challenging phase of writing process:
revision, revision, revision!
o Increase flexibility to consider other ways of saying things.
o Build an awareness of a wider, more authentic audience.
o Stimulate discussion and metacognition (where developmentally ready).
o Help students articulate issues about ownership, finding, different
conceptualizations of the same content. These can be sophisticated
challenges, even for the best students.
referenced from www.teachersfirst.com
Check „em out
Here are a few examples to inspire you to create
your wiki or webpage:
Something I did for Special Ed Part 1
An example for this class …
Generously donated web links
Click on the icon to visit the
any of these free site builders
Strategies that Work, published by The Peal Center
Special Thank You to Melissa Gollan-Wills for giving me permission to
use the links to some of the wikis she has created.