Success Story: Ms. Boodoosingh

Ms. Boodoosingh is using Vocabulary.com to extend the learning of her high-achieving, high-aspiring history students who are always hungry for a challenge. We visited her classroom and sat down afterward to talk shop.
Subjects:World History, Technology, Global Scholars
Grade Taught:6th
Years Teaching:11
Using Vocabulary.com for:1 year
  • ... I really think a strong vocabulary makes a big difference in the professional fields.
    Vocabulary.com: Many of your students are very successful in school, with a lot of academic potential. How important is vocabulary enrichment for their future success?
    Ms. Boodoosingh: These students are high aspiring kids — they’re being prepared for college and career. Look at the professions — not just jobs — that are out there: lawyers and doctors and engineers and computer scientists. In those fields, you do not use the letter U instead of the word you. You do not use slang. Kids need to be aware of that because if they don’t, some day when they go out into the world they will feel very much out of place. Nobody’s going to understand what they are saying, they will not be able to communicate with their bosses. I see it in the kids’ writing, and I tell them, “You have to imagine that the person who is reading this speaks English. Not this text language.” And I really think a strong vocabulary makes a big difference in the professional fields.
  • Vocabulary improvement permits one to express oneself in beautiful ways.
    V: The communication skills are so crucial, and you really focus on that with your students.
    B: Yes. From time immemorial, humans have had the need to communicate with each other. Communication is the key to healthy and productive relationships, and vocabulary makes this effective communication possible. We can use vocabulary to learn, share knowledge, exchange ideas, clarify uncertainties, provide inspiration. Vocabulary improvement permits one to express oneself in beautiful ways. This may take the form of poetry or music.
  • Possession of improved vocabulary also allows one to think logically ...
    V: Here at Vocabulary.com, we often talk about how word knowledge forms the basis of the four aspects of literacy: reading, writing, listening and speaking. But we also see words as the building blocks of language, and language is thought. How do you see a strong vocabulary as something that helps students think better?
    B: Possession of improved vocabulary also allows one to think logically, since comprehension is achieved and a logical flow of thoughts become natural. This leads to higher critical thinking skills, making it easier to evaluate and synthesize information.
  • ... because of their competitive nature they’re constantly working and working and working, and I’m constantly creating lists for them!
    V: So how do you integrate Vocabulary.com into your curriculum?
    B: I usually I take the vocabulary words out of the text, create my own list, and then I assign it to them. And because of their competitive nature they’re constantly working and working and working, and I’m constantly creating lists for them! I’ve taught technology as well as history classes, so I have many lists to use, and now we also use the lists that other people have created on Vocabulary.com.

    And we don’t just use it on those classes. We have a school-wide STEM project designing hurricane-resistant structures, and we’ve incorporated Vocabulary.com into it. I’ve been working with the other teachers to create lists and to make sure that when they have an article for the students to read they have a list for it.
  • It’s brought out the creative element in my instruction. I’ve developed many extension activities with Vocabulary.com.
    V: Sounds like these kids are just devouring words. What has Vocabulary.com allowed you to do that may not have been possible with other approaches to vocabulary instruction?
    B: It’s brought out the creative element in my instruction. I’ve developed many extension activities with Vocabulary.com. For instance, I had students create a bookmarks with their favorite words from Vocabulary.com word lists, then they incorporated these words into their writing, in story that is history-related. An illustration accompanied their story. The students had a wonderful time completing this activity. Then from this activity, another extension was created. Students worked in groups to create either a poem, song, skit or monologue. Their creative skills surfaced and produced very entertaining results!
  • ... their vocabulary has improved tremendously. I hear them using the words and they say, 'Oh that was a Vocabulary.com word!'
    V: We often talk about how schools where teachers get creative with Vocabulary.com develop a culture of word learning. Here at Margate, that culture has both a creative dimension and of course the competition aspect.
    B: Yes, Vocabulary.com has also brought out the competitive nature in students as they fight to master the most words! This allows me to see them in a different light as some extremely quiet students work to make it to the top. I’ve observed the competitive nature come out in students who generally are timid and would prefer to maintain a low profile. They are persistent and work with fervor to attain the top position on the leaderboard, and even the shy students seem to enjoy the attention that’s showered on them when they make it to the top!
  • V: What do you notice about your students now? What has changed?
    B: Well their vocabulary has improved tremendously. I hear them using the words and they say, “Oh that was a Vocabulary.com word!” If they watch or listen to the news, they’ll tell me they heard a vocabulary word on the news. If we’re doing research, they’ll point out “Ms. Singh, we learned this word last week!” Or, “This was a word I struggled with!” And then if they struggled with a particular word, I would see that they would go to Vocabulary.com and look for the meaning again. So it is a form of motivation for them, to keep doing better. And I have seen even in the writing that I’m not making as many red marks!
  • V: It sounds like this really works for you.
    B: Yes, and I think that once a teacher shows that enthusiasm, there’s like a ripple effect. Vocabulary.com has also ensured that I am familiar with all of the words on the list! How can I used the words and teach others if I cannot understand the definitions myself? Very often, I encounter unfamiliar words and must master them just as the students do. This allows me to improve my skills as well!