For the last five years, we've been partnering with the New York Times Learning Network on a Word of the Day feature. Last year, just as the total was about to hit the 1,000 mark, we joined the Learning Network in sponsoring a Vocabulary Video Contest.

The results were so fantastic, we're back with a second year of the challenge!

Students ages 13 to 19: We invite you to create a short video that defines or teaches any of the words in the New York Times Learning Network's now-nearly-1200-words-strong "Word of the Day" collection. You have until Nov. 11 at 7 a.m. Eastern to do it, and all the rules and regulations, plus some inspiration from past winners, are below.

Remember, as the Learning Network's wordsmiths so eloquently put it last year:
Tenacity + a desire to edify + an enterprising nature – sloth = a beguiling result.

A winner of last year's contest: Bifurcate, by Sam Jenks


Vocab Video Contest FAQ

I'm in! What are the rules and guidelines?

  • All words must come from the New York Times Learning Network's Word of the Day feature. Each word must be pronounced and defined, and the part of speech must be given. Here is a PDF of all 1188 words the Learning Network has published through Oct. 3, 2014.
  • All definitions must come from either the Word of the Day or the Vocabulary.com dictionary. If there are several definitions, you may just use the first one if you like.
  • You must be 13 to 19 years old, but can be from anywhere in the world.
  • Your video should be no more than 15 seconds, but can be shorter.
  • You can work alone, with a partner or in a group, but only one submission per student, please, whether you're working alone or with others.
  • Use your imagination. You can act the word out, animate it, use puppets, draw, sing a song, create a dance, incorporate photographs, create a Claymation, or anything else that will help viewers understand and learn your word.
  • Post a link to the video as a comment on this blog post or on this New York Times Learning Network page along with the first name of everyone who worked on the video. We will watch the videos first to make sure they are appropriate before we approve your comment, so don't worry if you don't see your link for a day or two.
  • Please make sure your video is public so that we can see it without a password.
  • The contest ends on Nov. 11 at 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

So we only post a link to our video on your blog. Where do we post the videos themselves?

Anywhere that you, your teachers and your parents or guardians are comfortable with, but please make sure we don't need a password to access it.

You can post on YouTube, TeacherTube, SchoolTube, Vimeo or even on Google Docs or anywhere else that provides an embed code so we can post your final product on our blog if you win.

"Video in the Classroom," from EdTechTeacher.org offers a useful overview of how and where you might film and post.

Of course, please follow the Terms of Service for whatever platform you use.

Where can I look for inspiration?

Your first stop should be the New York Times Learning Network's post featuring last year's winners and runners-up.

But if you'd like to learn more about developing vocabulary through multimodal expression, you might read some of the work of Professor Bridget Dalton. In this piece for Literacy Beat, she describes the step-by-step process she went through with her graduate students to have them create short videos like this one

How can I choose a word then learn enough about it to make a video?

To choose your word, look through these two interactive and learnable vocabulary lists: 2014 Vocabulary Video Contest Words A-L and  M-Z.  You can scroll through the New York Times Learning Network's Word of the Day feature to see about 10 words at a time, or you can scan this nine-page PDF list of all 1188 words we published with them through Oct. 3, 2014. (Teachers, you might choose the specific words from that list that you'd like your students to use.)

Next, take a look at the word's definition page in the Vocabulary.com dictionary. There you'll find a friendly explanation and a rich supply of authentic usage examples from both current and classic sources. Take a look at the entries for retinue and uproarious — both former Word of the Day words — as examples.

Want to go a bit deeper? Type your work along with the phrase "Word of the Day," into the New York Times Learning Network's search box. This will take you to the Word of the Day feature, where you'll see more about the word's definition as well as examples of how it has been used in The New York Times.

Once you have a handle on the word's meaning and how it is commonly used, you can start to think about the most effective way to teach that word in a 15-second video.

(Want to do something productive while waiting for inspiration to strike? Use the practice tab on this list of last year's winning words or add them to your game play with "learn this list.")


Thank you for participating! Remember, to enter, just post the link to your video, along with the first name (and last initial, if you like) of all those who worked on it, in the comments field, below. You can also post your questions there, and we'll answer them in bold as soon as we can.

Don't post videos in a place where we need passwords to see them.

And no last names please, although if you win you will have the option of having your last name listed.

Onomatopoeia, by Jack D. 

Serendipity, by Nina T.