It's always exciting to see new projects teachers design to bring vocab learning to life. Last year we put together a roundup of four great projects we'd come across. Here are four more ideas we've come across recently. Try them as they appear, or enhance them by using them with Vocabulary.com.
In a school-wide celebration of vocabulary, students at the Field School in Park Ridge, IL took part in a vocabulary parade. Each student searched the dictionary for a word that was new or interesting to them in some way, designed a costume explicating the word, and then took those costumes out for a spin as part of a Vocabulary Parade. The Field School's parade used an Olympics theme, marching to music from the opening ceremonies. But you don't have to let another quadrennium pass before replicating the idea in your school — parades can be organized around all different themes and occasions with music to match.
How Vocabulary.com can help: Although a traditional dictionary is ideal for the kind of scanning kids do when searching for a word they don't know, our Dictionary's word-learning resources will help them go deeper, seeing:
- examples of the word used in real word context
- a color-based breakdown of the word's different meanings and parts of speech
- an audio file that models its pronunciation
- a word family diagram that includes information about how frequently the chosen word appears in the lexicon.
#VocabAZ, an International Vocab Pen Pal Project
As part of an international collaboration between classrooms in the US and the UK, third graders created illustrations for words they were learning and shared them digitally via Twitter.
Third grade teacher Mrs. Yollis described the project in this way: "Looking for a way to work together and keen to explore the possibilities of using Twitter as an educational tool within the classroom, Mrs. Yollis in California, USA and Mrs. Monaghan in Yorkshire, UK came up with the idea of tweeting a word a day. The UK class had a literacy goal of strengthening their vocabulary for writing, and so #vocabaz was born. Imagine, 26 days of glorious word investigations with increasing knowledge of dictionary use and noun/adjective/verb classifications. What's not to like?"
How Vocabulary.com can help: In addition to breaking down words and explaining them in ways kids can understand, our dictionary offers not just US but also UK variant pronunciations and spellings.
In a project that turns the old saw "use this word in a sentence" on its head, geometry and art teacher Sharon Hertz of Charlo, MT asked students to write love poems incorporating geometry vocab. (For full poems, see this report in the local Valley Journal paper.) Some great examples include:
Student Rocco Santorno wrote: "I have a hypothesis that states: You are the acutest of triangles...Girl, you are a right triangle. One right angle for me. You have turned a scalene triangle in an isosceles. From no congruent sides into two." His classmate Katie Revis came up with this: "Love: How would you describe it? Like a ray; Starting at a point, then extending, forever? Or like a vertex; A place where sides of angles come together? Is it like parallel lines; Side by side on a plane? Or more like congruent angles; forever the same?"
This project could work easily with any subject-specific vocabulary, not just vocabulary pertaining to geometry or even math.
How Vocabulary.com can help: Again, our dictionary's learning resources help kids go beyond the information provided by standard dictionary definitions when figuring out how a word can and cannot be used. For this project, the friendly explanation on the word's page and the hundreds of usage examples pulled from real world texts would tell and show students what this word can do.
As part of the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, residents of Chapel Hill were invited to take part in an adult spelling bee hosted by members of a local comedy improv group impersonating comedian Paul Lynde of Hollywood Squares fame. The bee is meant to include college students and adults, but could be a fun project for high schoolers as well.
How Vocabulary.com can help: Did you know that you can use Vocabulary.com to practice spelling? Find out more about spelling any list of words on Vocabulary.com here. Then, if you organize a bee for your students, you can give them a chance to practice before they play. (For extra credit, they can also test themselves on the word's meanings.) As to finding your own personal Regis Philbin or Alex Trebec, that's up to you...
Purdue University first-year composition teacher Elena Shvidko has a background in ELL/ESL. Recently, she helped her students with some of the most tricky parts of speaking and writing for non-native English speakers by designing and printing notebooks they could use to track function-based vocabulary, or "transition" words as they encountered them in their reading. Writing up the project for her blog Shvidko explained, "I designed a booklet in a Word processing document, so students would write function-based words of the same category (e.g., words to emphasize, words to give examples, compare-contrast words, words to add information, words to show sequence) on one page and example sentences with these words on the other page."
The project turned out to help students get more comfortable using these words on their own. "At the end of the semester," Shvidko continued, "I received positive feedback from the students about their function-based vocabulary notebooks. They said they were able to pay more attention to those words when doing their readings, which in turn helped them use those words in their own writing."
How Vocabulary.com can help: Students can use the Vocabulary.com list tool to track transition words quickly and easily, giving them more time to focus on the words themselves. The notes field in the list gives them a spot to craft their own sentences, or they can check out hundreds of sentence examples when adding any word to a list. For more information on list building, watch this short video here.
But of course, you don't have to be engaged in project-based learning to make great use of Vocabulary.com. Students and even teachers can get started learning new words just by playing Vocabulary.com and letting our game find the right words for you.