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Monday, September 12, 2011

7 Resources for Teaching and Learning Vocabulary

One of my teaching assignments this semester is to work with students who need extra help preparing for the SAT (all 11th grade students in my school are required to take it). I split the responsibility with a mathematics teacher. My focus is on helping the students develop their reading skills and knowledge of vocabulary. This assignment got me to go back in my archives of resources for teaching and learning vocabulary.

Vocab Ahead offers online study rooms in which students can take practice vocabulary quizzes. The quizzes provide instant feedback on each question as well as summary information at the end of the quiz. While taking the quiz if a student is stuck on an item he or she can click on the hint tab. Vocab Ahead also offers video demonstrations of SAT vocabulary words. Teachers can create their own custom video playlists and place them into playlist widgets.

Wordia is a free visual, video dictionary. Wordia features a selection of user-submitted and professionally created videos explaining the meaning of a word. The videos focus on the everyday use of words while the text accompanying each video provides the dictionary definition of the word. The video below explains the word literacy.



Word Stash is a free service that describes itself as "half vocabulary builder, half dictionary, and full awesome." Word Stash is pretty true to its self-description. At its most basic Word Stash is a dictionary that provides contextual examples to support the definitions offered. For many words, Word Stash provides an audio pronunciation. The vocabulary builder aspect of Word Stash lies in the fact that users can create accounts in which they create and save lists of words to study. Users can create as many lists as they like and expand existing lists as they go. Word Stash provides short quizzes based on the words a user puts into a list. In creating the study quizzes, Word Stash uses a spaced repetition algorithm to present users with words based upon how often they answer correctly or incorrectly. To create a list of words users simply need to click "stash" anytime they view a word in the Word Stash dictionary. Users can also share lists and study other users' shared lists.

Knoword is a fun and challenging game that tests your ability to match definitions to words. Knoword is played like this; you're presented with the first letter of a word, its part of speech, and the definition. You then have to fill in the correct spelling of the word. If you enter the correct word, you earn points. If you don't get it right, you lose points. You don't have to register to play Knoword, but you can register if you want. Registering for Knoword gives you the option to keep track of your game statistics. Registered users can also earn badges based on their performances.

Flashcards, either online or physical, still seem to be one of the preferred methods of studying vocabulary words. Flashcard Flash is a handy little search engine designed for one purpose, helping you find sets of flashcards. Flashcard Flash was built using Google Custom Search. Flashcard Flash searches twenty-two different flashcard services including Flashcard DB, Quizlet, and Study Stack all of which I've previously reviewed and found to be excellent services.

Words, Words, Words is a free vocabulary app for Android from Socratica. I have previously checked out some other apps from Socratica that I liked, and this one is no different. I like that the interface is very visually-pleasing and easy to navigate. Words, Words, Words can be used in a flashcard-like manner for familiarizing yourself with the words or in a quiz mode. Words, Words, Words offers audio to help users with pronunciation.

MyVocabulary.com offers free vocabulary lessons, word lists, and word puzzles designed for middle school and high school students. The vocabulary lists are based on books commonly used in middle school and high school classrooms. MyVocabulary.com also offers word lists and activities based on SAT vocabulary. Visitors to MyVocabulary.com will find stand-alone vocabulary lessons as well as activities to complement the reading of specific stories.

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