Thanks to our colleague, Mr. Funk, I will likely never be at a loss for words again!
Today I was directed to www.visuwords.com, which is an online dictionary with a twist. Instead of defining a word, visuwords gives you a visual representation of the definition as well as illustrating links your word has with other words, derivations, etc. The picture with this post is a screenshot of the result for searching the word "KNOWING".
Immediately I thought of all of those students I have worked with over the years who did not have a strong vocabulary. They recognized words when they heard them, but struggled to come up with them when working on writing activities in class. With this visual search engine, no longer will a student need to say "I can't think of anything else to write about.". If they are interested in hockey, then can enter the word in and be given all kinds of ideas for directions to take their writing in. This program is simple, but it just makes sense!
Give it a look, I think you'll be amazed at its utility too! If I can think of a use for this, imagine what an expert in teaching writing could do?