Teaching and Learning through some Amazing Connecting Websites

Sometimes ephiphanies come from the strangest places:

I learn about so many cool things on twitter, so much so that I even check it before my RSS reader. Today, Sue Roseman talked about visuwords, the online visual dictionary.

Meanwhile, was Skype chatting with my friend, Graham Wegner in Australia, king of smartboards and Web 2 middle school teaching, and I told him about visuwords. He thinks it would be great on the smartboard. Then, he told me about how he likes to use the visual search engine quintura, particularly its kid friendly version quintura for kids.

He said (I had permission to quote him) – this is the skypechat:

[8:40:04 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Look at this super cool site – http://www.visuwords.com/
[8:40:15 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: I'm just flipping out how I'm going to use it in class, just blogging it now.
[8:41:18 AM] Graham Wegner says: brilliant on an interactive whiteboard
[8:41:44 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Have you seen it before? Did you already know about it/
[8:41:45 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: ?
[8:42:04 AM] Graham Wegner says: no – it's a bit like quintura
[8:42:14 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Never heard of quintura — is it free and great too?
[8:42:15 AM] Graham Wegner says: excellent for brainstorming a topic
[8:42:22 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Oh.
[8:42:30 AM] Graham Wegner says: it's a mindmap style search engine
[8:42:42 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Oh, I need to look at it.
[8:43:13 AM] Graham Wegner says: there's a kids version as well
[8:43:33 AM] Graham Wegner says: http://www.quintura.com
[8:43:35 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Can I quote you on the quintura thing?
[8:43:43 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Where is the kids version of quintura?
[8:43:53 AM] Graham Wegner says: sure
[8:43:59 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: And how do you use it in the classroom?
[8:44:07 AM] Graham Wegner says: http://kids.quintura.com
[8:44:12 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: So cool.
[8:44:39 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: So you use quintura on the smartboard to brainstorm?
[8:44:47 AM] Graham Wegner says: My students used it to work out categories for a topic.
[8:44:53 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Cool.
[8:44:55 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: I love that.
[8:45:03 AM] Graham Wegner says: yes, then the kids did their own on pc's
[8:45:24 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Neat.
[8:45:45 AM] Graham Wegner says: we were looking at What Does It Mean To Be Australian? and someone typed in Australia Inventions
[8:46:02 AM] Graham Wegner says: and then it all opened up different options
[8:46:13 AM] Mrs. Vicki Davis says: Wow!

Well, it turns out that Graham found about the search engine from Derek Wenmoth from New Zealand – Derek is a keynote speaker in IT in Graham's part of the world.

Graham also likes TouchGraph and Kartoo as other examples of visual tools. Graham says:


“[Touchgraph] lets you put in your blog url and it gives you a linked in view of your blogging network.”

“Kartoo lets you type in your name to see your web presence (with others who share your name!)”

In fact, Graham sent me a snapshot of the touchgraph he made of my blog — which is so cool.

So, as I look at these amazing visual organizers and the connections that they make, I think about I have just learned through my own connections: I read about a site on twitter, instant messaged to Graham in Australia and learned from him — he had learned from a blog in New Zealand.

And you've just read a blog post that has put all of these together with a photograph created in Australia, websites from various sources around the world and put together within about 20 minutes. Amazing.

It is about connections.

It is about being connected and learning through the connections. OK, gotta run.

If you know of any other great websites that teach with visual connections. Please share.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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7 comments

Christy Tucker July 12, 2007 - 3:20 pm

You might want to check out this article called 16 Awesome Data Visualization Tools. Quintura and Kartoo are listed, but there’s some others that could be useful as well.

The Wiki Mind Map is another interesting tool. (Make sure you change it to the English wikipedia, unless you want a different language.)

Many Eyes lets you upload data and create visualizations. I haven’t played with it that much, but it looks promising and there are some fabulous examples.

vwv July 12, 2007 - 3:53 pm

What an awesome number of visualization tools. Thanks for sharing Vicki

Brenda Muench July 12, 2007 - 6:14 pm

Holy Cow!!! This is so cool! I’m a tech head music teacher and even I can think of a billion way to use this! I’m sending these links to everyone that’s even remotely techie at my school. Thanks so much for a great blog! I found you at the beginning of the summer and I just can’t get enough!

Mr. B-G July 14, 2007 - 5:32 am

Wow. Thanks for the info on the visual sites. I sent the Visuwords link to my SPED director. I think it will be a great resource for regular ed kids too.

It’s been a while since I’ve visited your blog. I like the new layout.

Maryanne July 14, 2007 - 4:14 pm

Vicki,

Thanks for all the great visual search engine sites. They should really help students (and teachers)during the brainstorming process.

Another Visualization site that I love is http://www.gliffy.com. I think of it as a free, simplified version of Inspiration. It works well for creating mind-maps to embed in blogs or other websites and allows collaboration. Here’s an example showing my professional network thatI created after hearing a session by Will Richardson.
http://snipurl.com/mynetwork

Andrew Pass July 15, 2007 - 6:00 pm

Vicki,

It’s been a while since I’ve read blogs. But this post makes me realize how much I’ve been missing. It’s an under-statement to write that the learning process is unlimited.

laura August 1, 2007 - 4:27 am

Wow! What a neat website. I would never have discovered such an amazing resource if I had never read your blog post. Visuwords.com is the tool I definitely want to use in a classroom setting. I love language and I studied English and am interested in teaching elementary education now and am working towards my Masters degree and think even younger elementary students will benefit from seeing the connections with given words. How extraordinary! I think many students will benefit from this neat internet site and will be able to profoundly expand their vocabulary development and make connections. I am especially interested in seeing how this tool would assist autistic students. I think I had an autistic student in my class and she had trouble assigning appropriate contextual meanings to words. With a web tool like visuwords for autistic students (because they typically relate through pictures) I feel this could only benefit them! Thanks for the neat site!

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