Vocabulary with Tech

Using Technology to Reinforce and Strengthen Vocabulary

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Using Technology to Teach Vocabulary

No matter your subject area, vocabulary is critical for speaking the ‘language’ of the subject, and for building up confidence and comfort with test questions.  In my classroom, I use several strategies for students to build up comfort and familiarity with the vocabulary.  One of my favorites is quizlet.

quizletAt the start of the unit, I give students a list of terms and definitions for the unit.  I usually make these lists up by using the website http://www.quizlet.com Once you enter the words, you can choose from a list of previously entered definitions for that term.  I try to keep the list to a manageable, not overwhelming amount. Quizlet makes it so easy for me to make a nice printable list with definitions.

For homework, students have a week to do to options from their vocabulary ‘menu.’  They can do additional options for extra credit.  This menu includes options such as drawing pictures, using in a sentence, writing definitions, writing a story, etc.

Then within class, for each unit, I spend a day or two on vocabulary, and do some station work.  Sometimes I will mix in the vocabulary with other review stations.  On other occasions I just focus on vocabulary.  There are so many ways to practice vocabulary.

Vocabulary Stations

Some of the vocabulary stations that I like to use are:

  • Match up words and definitions.  Print out terms on one set of cards, and definitions on another.  Students match up the words and definitions.  They can also compete to see how quickly they can match them up.
  • Pictionary – students can get into small teams and choose a word randomly (draw a card); and then draw the word.  Their teammates try to guess which term they are drawing.
  • Create a test question using the given vocabulary terms.
  • Practice vocabulary quiz (maybe matching, or open notes)
  • There are others, but this is a good place to start.  I think its really important that vocabulary stations focus on knowing the definitions and student processing, not only on spelling, or word searches/crossword puzzles.
  • http://www.quizlet.com  Students can use different games on the site to practice with the words.  My favorite is scatter, but there is a ‘learn’ mode that is also great.  Some of my lowest students can practice over and over and feel a sense of success as they improve.  They can also go at their own pace.  Students can use quizlet if they are done early, or to practice at home once they are comfortable using it.


Are you familiar with quizlet?

You can use quizlet for vocabulary, formulas, or really anything that you need to match things up and memorize. (Some examples would be states and capitals, foreign language terms, even chemical formulas).

On the website, kids can flip through the terms and definitions like flashcards, play two different games, or different modes to learn the terms, including one where the computer reads the definitions and they type in the words (great for ELLs).

If you have ipads or ipods in your classroom, there is an app as well.

Once I enter in the terms and definitions, I can print out various things — a glossary, flashcards, word and definition cards that can be matched, or quizzes in a couple different formats.

I try to focus more on concepts, but the bottom line is, if kids don’t understand the vocabulary and language then they can’t be successful.

New Quizlet Updates

If you have used quizlet in the past, you may not be aware that there are recent upgrades/updates as well.  One of the biggest changes is that you can now add images to your definitions.  This could be great for ELL’s or for certain topics where you need to have a visual. (The sound option is a paid option.)


Another new addition is the “Quizlet Live” game.  You can see a demo here. It is similar to Kahoot with a game pin.  Students can play in real time on their own or with a team.

Students are engaged, competitive, and practicing using the terms they need to learn.

I have found that if students get too stuck on the terms, they can’t navigate the content or the content based questions because they don’t understand the language.

This post is adapted from a previous post at Science in the City

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