Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Learning Vocabulary with Technology

Hernandez Middle School is focusing on Vocabulary this year. Our research question for the year is in part "How does the intentional instruction of academic vocabulary and mortar words improve the academic achievement of all student groups ....?" We won't know the answer to the question until the end of the year, but already teachers are seeing results with a little help from Technology.

8th Grade Language Arts teacher Mr. Gembicki is using flashcards to help teach vocabulary, but not the paper kind. Using a website called Quizlet, available as a free app at the Chrome Store, Mr. Gembecki has turned flashcards into a fun interactive digital way to teach vocabulary. Are you as smart as Mr. Gembicki's 8th graders? Try one of the flash card sets created by Mr. Gembicki at Quizlet.

Reading Specialist, Ms. Kathleen Green and 6th grade Science teacher Mr. John Simpson use Freerice.com to help students learn vocabulary. Freerice.com donates 10 grains of rice for every correct answer a student gives. As students answer the vocabulary question correctly, the difficulty increases. If students struggle, the questions become easier so students can learn words they don't know. Students are motivated to learn vocabulary and get answers correct so they can contribute rice to The World Food Program to end world hunger.  Try Freerice.com and feed the world as you test your vocabulary skills.

Ms. Sofie Vastano, 7th Grade English Language Arts Teacher recently added Drillster and Newsela apps for students to use with their google accounts. Drillster allows Ms. Vastano to customize vocabulary terms for students and drills students so they retain the vocabulary words. Ms. Vastano reports that Drillster has helped students do better on tests. Would you pass one of Ms. Vastano's test? Try one of her drills and see how well you do.

Newsela is also an app available in the Chrome Store. It provides current event articles at different reading levels for students to read. Students are given a quiz after reading the article with vocabulary words and content questions.

Teachers at Hernandez are discovering that Flocabulary is a great tool for teaching vocabulary. Ms. Stephanie Stoebe, reading specialist has provided teachers with a list of flocabulary lessons for teachers to use in Science and US History. Flocabulary uses rap music to teach vocabulary. Because rap music is something middle school students relate to and can memorize, students are able to memorize vocabulary definitions by learning the songs.

How good are your vocabulary skills? Parents, can you define some of the words your students need to know. Try some of the activities your students are participating everyday at Hernandez Middle School. Follow the links above to practice your vocabulary.