Teachers at Work

A column about teaching

American School for the Deaf

We recently spoke with Francisco Abeyta, the Education Technology Coordinator at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT. The school introduced Visual Thesaurus to its 250 students last October. Francisco tells us how it's working out.

VT: How does Visual Thesaurus fit in your classroom?

Francisco: In one of our high school-level reading classes, students have laptops that connect to the internet. The teacher has a laptop that connects to an LCD projector. The students have their books open, and their laptops open to the Visual Thesaurus. When they come to a word that they don't understand they'll enter it in the Visual Thesaurus. When the teacher wants to go over some of the language, she'll project the entry from her laptop.

VT: So the students are building vocabulary as they're going through the book?

Francisco: Right.

VT: How effective is this approach?

Francisco: It's one of the most inspiring for the kids because they like 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. It also opens up conversations about new words - they check out other words just from what they've seen in the Visual Thesaurus.

VT: Are there other ways your school is using Visual Thesaurus?

Francisco: Literacy and vocabulary are two big goals for us. Deaf kids are so visual in the way they learn things so Visual Thesaurus is really good for them. Some of the teachers wanted pictures to go with the words. So we got some clip art pictures for certain words. For example, we looked up the word "bicycle" and saved the Visual Thesaurus display as an image. We then used Photoshop to combine the image with pictures for certain things like "pedal," "seat" and "spokes." We printed it out and handed it to the kids.

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Comments from our users:

Tuesday May 30th 2006, 2:42 PM
Comment by: anna S. (South Africa)Top 10 Commenter
Cool! Francisco, I just lucked on to your article. Way to go! Chris Upton
Sunday November 5th 2006, 9:42 AM
Comment by: Nancy B.
Very interesting. As a deaf person, the Visual Thesaurus would have been a great resource for me when I was in school. I think it's great that ASD has taken the initiative to use this technology with their students, since deaf kids, statistically, tend to have poorer vocabulary/language acquisition than hearing kids, as well as lower reading levels.

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