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I’m putting on my academic “teacher” hat now so if that sort of thing bores you, consider yourself warned.

Shoo. Scram. Get lost.

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Still here?

All right then.

As a Language Arts teacher, my basic premise is that I teach communication. Now, truth be told, I teach a lot of things. But say I can fit everything under a couple of those big beach umbrellas—communication would be one of them.

And it’d have an attention grabbing ad plastered all over it.

So, to that end, I am always on the lookout for good information related to effective communication. I search for effective models, learn what I can, and then incorporate that into either my classroom or my own writing.

In short, I look for remarkable people using remarkable methods.

But how do you measure that? How do I know what “good” communication is?

Well, one group I like to watch is the marketers—copywriters in particular. Why? Because they can actually measure effective communication. If a copywriter is effective they get a response—a sale, a click, a phone call, a volunteer, a vote.

Something more than someone saying, “Darn that’s good writing.”

Who would pay more attention to the craft of communication than someone who values his results because his paycheck is linked to them?

And this guy says it’s not just about the written text anymore. Nowadays, truely effective communication uses more than just words on a page or screen. When you really need your message to be understood, you need to use visual aids (pictures), video, audio.

Heck even Harvard phychologist and educational guru, Howard Gardner, in his book, Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our own and Other People’s Minds advocates the use of multiple streams of the same information.

Different presentation techniques. Stories, cartoons, graphs, songs, timelines, flowcharts, poetry . . . you get the idea

So today I’d like to offer up a couple nifty tools for visual communication, or as the North Central Regional Educational Library (am I boring you yet?) calls it—Visual Literacy.

And so, without further ado—the tools (yawn . . .finally).

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods: This page is worth visiting if only to check out the technology used to create it. Be sure to hover your mouse around throughout the page or your missing 95% of the information.

Periodic table of visuals

Freemind: Free (and simply awesome) mind mapping software. With it you can make stuff like this:

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Or, for more complex ideas, this (click image to see a bigger, clearer copy):

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And with that, I wish you a good weekend.