I've always been a firm believer that all students benefit from visual supports--but providing images or other visuals provides a path to language. That's the V--Visual--in the FIVES Criteria.
An image leads to:
...understanding of a vocabulary word or concept.
...expansion of categories.
...connections and narrative.
...causal, conditional, or other structural language forms.
The above reasons are why I am constantly endorsing the use of the free, versatile and multiple-platform Pic Collage. This app hit a bump this past fall. The Web Search, which allows you to add photos to a thematic, contextual collage very quickly and in a co-creative process with students, lost its connection to Google (Web Search allows you to search for photos and add them from the app). The developers were communicative about it and made efforts to develop their own search tool, which gradually improved over the following months, but it was a tougher sell.
A few months ago, however, Pic Collage struck a partnership with Microsoft's search engine BING! So the results are back to being as good as they ever were.
Additionally, Web Search has JUST added "suggestions" which might help you in your in-the-moment creations with students. The suggestions are specific items within the category you would be searching for, or associations related to your search. How wonderfully language-enhancing!
Results and suggestions for "trees" and "national parks" depicted above. Tap on the suggestion to point your search in a specific direction and bring up new possible images to add to the collage (tap images, then the check mark in the upper right to add images to a collage).
This past year I was involved with a productive assistive technology and language consultation regarding a student who LOVED to be in all of his classes. He just needed support to participate verbally. My advice was focused on taking some of the language "out of the air" and giving the student more visual support as conversations and topics unfolded, Pic Collage being a key tool we discussed. For example, as his consumer education class discussed forms of payment, Pic Collage could be easily used to visualize cash, a credit and debit card, check, and cell phone.
For some of my previous posts on Pic Collage, look here, here and here.