Students Get Laptops. Students Visualize Words. Reading Soars.
What's the synonym for "exciting?" At the American School of the Deaf in West Hartford, CT, high school students don't have to thumb through a dog-eared thesaurus to find out. "That'd be boring," says teacher Arlene Blum.
NEW YORK, April 2006 - Thanks to an innovative new initiative called the Laptop Pilot Program, reading students here have all been assigned computers. As they read a book in class, they enter words they don't know into an award-winning software program called the Visual Thesaurus. The program creates interactive word maps for each entry that blossom with meanings and branch to related words.
"When I showed this to one of the kids, his eyes almost popped out of this head! He found so many words with similar meanings," says Arlene.
Now that's exciting.
"Our goal here is to teach our kids more vocabulary and more language so they're competitive with their hearing peers," says reading teacher Arlene Blum.
The teachers also have computers, connected to overhead projectors. They put up the Visual Thesaurus word maps for the entire class to see.
"It's inspiring for the kids because they like the computer part. It's easier for them to type a word into the computer as opposed to the other option, to look for a word in a dictionary," says Francisco Abeyta, the school's technology coordinator. "It also starts conversations about new words - they check out other words just from what they've seen in the Visual Thesaurus," he adds.
"It's opened a lot of avenues for us," says Arlene.
THE VISUAL THESAURUS
ABOUT THINKMAP, INC.