Make Learning Visual

Who does it help?
Think of one or more of your students who would benefit if:
  • the text was larger or easier to see?
  • they could hear text read aloud?
  • they could highlight or cut and paste the important points, or mark words that were unclear?
  • there was a summary of the article that could be read before reading the whole piece?
These adjustments can be easily done with electronic text and will help you differentiate instruction for a wide range of students.

Use text graphically to sort, find, share, and dissect information.
Who does it help?
Students who benefit from:
  • seeing relationships between information;
  • having maps and charts to help clarify information and focus on essential information;
  • using an graphic representation to get their ideas down and organized before generating narrative or expository writing;
  • communicating through non linear strategic thinking to build meaning from pictures or models instead of words;
  • combining images (from image libraries) with text to increase comprehension or demonstrate understanding;
  • using “real images” or video to integrate current and past knowledge;
  • having information reduced so they can focus and remember information;
  • having a visual representation of relationships between concepts.(

Professional Resources to Support Visual Thinking

  • Why use visual supports?
    • Humans process visuals much faster than text.
    • Beginning any lesson with an image helps you provide your students with a non-linguistic representation, and builds multiple means of representation into your lessons.
      • This gives students a frame of reference
      • Helps them to see the big picture
      • Use of visuals can trigger recall of prior experiences and background knowledge
      • Using illustrated materials improves retention and recall, and increases generalization of knowledge

Discovery streaming

  • Available by subscription, but many school systems have accounts. Check with your media specialist or technology director regarding availability in your district.
  • Many videos have Closed Captioning features available. Turning on Closed Captioning supports learners who need visual and audio support, provides literacy support for all students. Look for the CC icon in your search results.
  • Enabling Closed Captioning in Windows Media Player v10 Windows_Media_Player_Closed_Captions_v10_Feb08.pdf


  • SchoolTube
    • provides students and educators a safe, FREE media sharing website that is nationally endorsed by premier education associations.
    • SchoolTube is the recognized leader for moderated, internet media sharing for teachers and students.
    • All student created materials on SchoolTube must be approved by registered teachers, follow local school guidelines, and adhere to our high standards.
    • Categories - is a direct link to a searchable list of videos sorted by content.
    • "I use SchoolTube to show my students what can be done, and to set goals and practices based on what they see." Sam Morris, Video Production Teacher, Judson B. Walker Middle School
Sample SchoolTube videos:

SchoolTube now offers picture sharing! You can share your pictures of events and projects that your video cameras can not catch. It is just as easy as uploading videos, and pictures go through the same approval process.Click on the Pictures tab.
Easier Watching of YouTube - Tool to make SchoolTube and YouTube easier to see and control.

Mind Mapping Tools

  • Inspiration Check with tech support in your building/district. Many schools have site licenses.
  • FreeMind Very similar in appearance and function as Inspiration, but available as a free download.
  • Concept Map Free for educational use for both Mac and PC platforms. Web based.
  • Dropmind - mind mapping - free web tool - Seavus DropMind™ will help you form more creative ideas and solutions, and to think in multiple directions simultaneously. Our mind mapping tool offers unique creation of mind maps and effective and rapid review of information.
  • Gliffy - With Gliffy online diagram software, you can easily create professional-looking flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, technical drawings, and more. Our online diagram editor makes it easier than ever to create great looking drawings.
  • - free online mind mapping tool
  • Mind42 - Collaborative mind mapping in your browser - free
  • Webspiration - Whether working individually or collaboratively, Webspiration is the new online visual thinking tool.With integrated diagram and outline views you can think visually, structure your work effectively and express your ideas in the ways that communicate best. Free.
  • Mindomo is a versatile Web-based mind mapping tool, delivering the capabilities of desktop mind mapping software in a Web browser - with no complex software to install or maintain - Free
  • Exploratree- free web resource where you can access a library of ready-made interactive thinking guides, print them, edit them or make your own. You can share them and work on them in groups too.

Links to Images

  • LIFE Photo Archives - Google and LIFE team up to bring historic LIFE photos, available free, online and ready for classroom use.
  • Pics4Learning - Copyright-friendly images for educational use. Photos are submitted by photographers who have given permission for school use of their work. Well organized and categorized.
  • Microsoft Clip Art and Media Microsoft Clip Art and Media Search by topic and media type: clip art, photos, animations or sounds.
  • Flickr Store, search, and share photographs for classroom use without signing up.
  • Woophy Flickr Woophy Flickr WOrld Of PHotographY is a visual, logical and associative collection of images that represent the world's beauty and uniqueness from different cultural perspectives. Search begins with a world map. Registration for a free account is required.
  • Morgue Files - Free high resolution digital photography for public use.
  • Commons Project - images section of Wikipedia
  • Google Images - search for images on the web
  • Additional links to images.

Electronic assessment tools

  • Classroom Performance System

    • Now, instead of trying to gauge the class' comprehension from one or two students, you can easily poll the entire class. Having real-time data gives you more control over your lectures and allows you to adjust on the fly for each class.

  • TurningPoint
  • TurningPoint audience response system integrates 100% into Microsoft® PowerPoint® and allows audiences and students to participate in presentations or lectures by submitting responses to interactive questions using a ResponseCard® keypad or other hand-held/computer devices
  • Using a TurningPoint audience response system, your PowerPoint presentations become powerful data collection and assessment tools that collect real-time audience responses and dramatically improves productivity and results for your business or educational organization.
  • Poll Everywhere - free polling tools

Use text with photos
  • BeFunky - Photo effects with one click, Turn your photos into artwork. No registration. Free for personal use. Set up a free account to save photos online.
  • PhotoPeach - Slideshows to go! Add music and text to your own photos. Students can create very simple reports or digital stories. Send to students, family and friends.
  • Dumpr - Photo fun

Virtual Keyboard
  • Free Click -N- Type Keyboard - on-screen virtual keyboard designed for anyone with a disability that prevents him or her from typing on a physical computer keyboard. Has built in word prediction and completion. Free download, be sure to download the word prediction list also.

Tag Clouds

Data Visualization and Tag Clouds
  • Wordnik - Tells you everything you need to know about a word
    • An example sentence—even if we've only found one sentence for a word, we'll show it to you. (And we'll show you where the sentence came from, too!
    • Relatedwords: not just synonyms and antonyms, but words that are used in the same contexts. (For instance, cheeseburger, milkshake, and doughnut are not synonyms, but they show up in the same kinds of sentences.)
    • Images tagged by our friends at Flickr: want to know what a "pout" looks like? We'll show you.
    • Statistics: how rare is "tintinnabulation"? Well, we think you'll see it only about once a year. "Smile"? You might see that word many times, every day.
    • An audio pronunciation—and you can record your own!
    • Something YOU tell us! Use the "Contribute" links to tell us something—anything—about a word.

Non-linear text tools
  • Vocab Grabber Free web application - no download needed - copy text from any document, Vocab Grabber creates a vocab list
  • WordSift- Free web application that visualizes text and brings up a thesaurus, scrapbook, and examples from the source.
  • Scrapblog - create scrapbooks with your photos, video and thousands of creative elements. What a great resource for posting audio and visual notes to students
  • Themed writing paper - free themes to create custom writing paper for student projects
  • Notestar - free Internet utility to assist in the preparation of research papers. Teachers and students can set up research projects with topics and sub-topics. Students may then take advantage of NoteStar's many features to collect and organize their notes and prepare their bibliography page.
  • VerbaLearn VerbaLearn is jam-packed with great features to help you study more efficiently, track your progress, score higher, and simply save you time!
  • Flashcards Web-based means it works right in your web browser. You don’t have to download, install, or update anything.
  • Bookgoo Bookgoo allows you to highlight and annotate your documents in the same way you would mark up a piece of paper with a highlighter and pen! Only you are doing right on the computer.
  • MyStickies To put it simply, MyStickies allows you to place little yellow squares of digital paper anywhere and everywhere you feel like in the whole wide web. Along with the ability to put sticky notes on webpages mystickies offers a powerful interface to browse, search, sort, edit and generally have a wonderful time with your sticky notes from any computer that has internet access.
  • Web-chops Clip any part of any web-page, save and rearrange clips on your personal topic pages, share topic pages with friends, search through other people's topic pages.
  • Quizlet - Flash cards, vocabulary memorization, and studying games. Study vocabulary or almost anything. Create your own flashcards - sign up free - or use pre-made cards arranged by topic.
  • Visual Dictionary - The InfoVisual site uses images to explain objects, listing all their component parts in English, Spanish and French. Detailed views show all relevant details. Every image and term is fully defined. Sometimes, animations allow to better understand a phenomenon.

Visual Search Engines
  • Quintura - search results in text, mind map, video, links to the web
  • VisuWords - Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.
  • Kart00 - KartOO is a search software and data visualization publisher that offers the perfect solution while taking full advantage of existing technology.
  • SimplyBox - Think Inside the Box - Organize and retrieve web-based information. A "content networking tool" allows users to set up a free account to capture, save, share, and organize information into any number of "boxes." Powerful for visual learners!

  • Discovery Streaming -multimedia resources - subscription based
  • Google Video - search videos on any topic
  • TeacherTube- videos uploaded by teachers and students
  • JingProject - Record screencasts, tutorials, demos, training, lectures and more for posting online.
  • Flashcards - Perfect for printable flashcards, downloadable flash cards or online study using free flashcards software
  • ScreenToaster - Record screencasts, tutorials, demos, training, lectures and more. Capture videos of onscreen action in one click. Embed them on blogs and webpages or send them by email.
  • Windows Movie Maker - Free download for PC - easy movie creation
  • iMovie- Movie maker for Mac
  • WatchKnow - hundreds of thousands of great short videos, and other media, explaining every topic taught in school