visual learning

Visual Learning


Graphic Organizers and Word Clouds

Research on effective teaching and learning strategies (Classroom Instruction That Works, Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock) identifies non-linguistic representation strategies. The use of graphic organizers is an effective way to address different learning preferences.

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are concept maps that assist in the process of organizing ideas and communicating more effectively. Below we have several graphic organizers that will assist you as a teacher to organize your thoughts and ideas and share them easily with your students. They are essential resources for students to organize their thoughts and ideas when working on a project or paper. 

Try at least one of the three organizers below. Each is a little different and there are various features that will help you determine which one to use for the project you are working on. 

Resource Name

Age Level


    Tutorial  External Link


Create bubbles with text and attachments to brainstorm and share ideas

Check out this screenshot tutorial


Popplet  External Link



Brainstorm and share ideas by adding text, urls, videos and images to the Popples

Check out this video tutorial

Gliffy  External Link



Brainstorm and share flowcharts, diagrams, wireframes and more

Check out this screenshot tutorial

Also check out this complex flowchart example 


Word Clouds

A word cloud is a visual representation of word frequency. If a word is repeated, it will show more prominence in a word cloud. Word clouds are used in the classroom for vocabulary practice, to highlight prominent words, and analyze sets of words. Try at least one of the word cloud resources below. You will also want to check the Additional Resources page for several more choices. Like the organizers above, each of the word cloud resources has different features for the task you want to accomplish.

 Resource Name

 Age Level





A great place to start for easy to create word clouds for the elementary student. You must enter 3 or more words for the app to function properly. 

Answer Garden

Answer Garden


AnswerGarden is  a way to solicit brief feedback from a group. It can be used by teachers to establish the knowledge level of a class on a certain topic. AnswerGarden is used by creative teams for digital brainstorming sessions. As students answer, it populates a word cloud. Here is a quickstart guide




With Tagxedo you can change the words into different shapes. There are a lot of editing features, including different fonts, colors, and backgrounds. You can save your word cloud as a jpg or png image. To use this online resource you may be prompted to download Microsoft Silverlight to use the features.




You are able to create clouds of words, terms, vocabulary, phrases, and much more. If a word is repeated it will be more pronounced in the Cloud. You can change the colors, fonts, layouts, and color schemes. You can print them out and share them with your students. Read 108 ways to use Word Clouds in the Classroom. Note: you will need to make sure that Java on your computer is updated for Wordle to work appropriately. 




Infographics are a way to sort, arrange, and present data and images in a visually appealing way. There are several online resources for creating infographics. The one shown here was created using Piktochart. For tutorials and a basic guide for the creation of infographics, click here. Another resource you might enjoy is called A tutorial is available here. Both of these sites contain different templates. 

Infographics are often used to convey information. To learn how to create one that will send the right message, read this blog post which has 11 infographics about infographics. 

QR Codes


QR is short for Quick Response. It is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode first designed for the automotive industry. It has become popular because you can store a lot of information in the graphic image. The data can be retrieved and read with a QR reader software. Many teachers are creating them to provide a hyperlink to a website for students, or to provide additional information such as books reviews. Students can use a variety of devices to read QR codes. The device will need to have a camera, Internet connection and a small application to decode the QR code.
The information in the QR code might be an assignment, useful phone numbers, web sites for the class, study guides, email addresses, and messages, YouTube videos, Twitter, Facebook and much more.

Please watch this video on how to create and use QR codes in the classroom, then read how QR codes can be used in the classroom.

To create a QR code for students to access on their iPad or phone use any of the following QR code creators:

1. QR Stuff-

2.  Kaywa-

3. Google Chrome has a widget to create a QR code

You and your students will need an App on your phone or device to read the QR codes, and the App store for your device will have a free QR code reader.

Check out additional resources for Visual Learning

Learning Objectives

After completing this Thing, the educator will:

  • Know how to create online graphic organizers, word clouds, and QR codes
  • Understand how to mind map, create word clouds, and QR codes
  • Make connections with technology standards and best practice
  • Transfer the learning to professional practice to promote mind mapping and brainstorming as well as QR codes to inspire creativity and organization in the classroom

21 Things Assignment:

1. Navigate to a web resource you frequently use in your content area or grade level. Copy a paragraph of information from the page and paste it into one of the word cloud tools. Describe which of the 108 ways  on the list provided makes this a useful learning tool for your classroom? (Wordle, Tagxedo, etc.).  Add your word cloud, description and a link to the resource on your Digital Portfolio site.

2. Select a mind mapping site and create an example for a lesson you are teaching next week, or a meeting coming up (, Gliffy, Popplet, etc.). Share your example in your Digital Portfolio as well as a brief description of how it fits into a lesson.

3. Create a QR code that will link out to your school website and upload the image to your Digital Portfolio.

4. Create a simple infographic that you can use for a lesson or to model the technology for students or other educators. Share a screenshot of your infographic on your Digital Portfolio as well as a brief summary of how you are going to use this infographic in a lesson with your students. 

5. Select one of the visuals you created for this assignment, or a new one, and post it to your Face of the Classroom site. Remember to provide a link to the visual in your Digital Portfolio as well as a description of why you chose the visuals you did to post on your Face of the Classroom site. 

6. Take the very short survey giving feedback on this Thing.


Addressing the  ISTE Standards•T:


  1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity a,c;
  2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments a, c;
  3. Model Digital Age Work and Learning a, b, c, d;
  4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility b;
  5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership b, c


  1. Setting Objectives/Providing Feedback;
  2. Nonlinguistic Representations; Summarizing & Notetaking;
  3. Cues, Questions, Advance Organizers;
  4. Generating and Testing Hypotheses