Spring 2004 Visual Thesaurus named Best Content Utility Software by TechEdge

Best Content Utility Software

Once again, my favorite of the show was not the latest hardware gadget or some technology wonder; it was in fact a small little English utility that just astounded me. The Visual Thesaurus by Plumb Designs is just what I need to get students excited about learning vocabulary (our ELA instructional specialists say that the most difficult thing for stu-dents to handle about the SAT and other tests is their lack of vocabulary development - not to mention this pro-gram's utility for us struggling writers).

You simply enter a word in its search field and it posts the word plus several synonyms in a floating animated field (for the visual in us). You can even set your prefer-ences for other than synonyms. On the right hand side of the screen, it tells you if it is used as a noun, adjective, verb, or adverb and contains a history tracker so for the gray in us teachers, you can backtrack. It also acts as a dic-tionary. If you point at the circular junctions between the words, the definition and examples pop up. If you travel along a connecting line, the program tells the relationship between the connected words.

It is distributed through CCV Software (, Software Express ( and others. The cost is $27.95 for a single copy and $749 for a school license of 50. A web-based version is available for approximately $1 per student per year. For even the non-English teacher, this is a good product (did you know that malefic and maleficent are good alterna-tives for malevolent?) In case you are still a doubting Tomasina, go to their web site at and give the web based version a whirl. For a limited time, you can click til your heart's content.

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