- Level 1: Learning the meaning. Although this may be the lowest DOK level, familiarity with definitions provides fluency in thought. It’s easier to help students make connections between words when they already have a sense of the meaning.
- Level 2: Creating deeper connections. Students need to understand the different connotations of words and how certain words are more appropriate in certain situations. For example, consider the pair of words “harbinger” and “omen.” They have similar definitions, but “omen” is certainly darker. To appropriately use these two words in their own communication, students need to understand these differences of connotations.
- Level 3: Using new words orally and in writing. If students can use vocabulary words appropriately in their own writing and speaking, the likelihood of retention is far greater.
Practical examples of using edtech to successfully teach vocabularyIn each level, I use playful activities that make vocabulary learning more engaging for my students. Below are a couple of activities that I use for each of these levels.
Level 1 ActivitiesThe internet abounds with programs that teach level 1 knowledge of vocabulary words, but here are some ways you can help students rise to higher echelons of vocabulary mastery. PearDeck’s Flashcard Factory: Available in the FREE version of PearDeck, the Flashcard Factory pairs up students to create flashcards for vocabulary words assigned by the teacher. One student writes a definition or example of the word, and the other student draws an image to correlate. At the end of the activity, the teacher reveals the completed flashcards to the entire class. With the class input, teachers can approve or delete flashcards. Finally, the flashcards can be exported to Quizlet for students to study on their own. Not only are students learning the definitions, but they’re talking through the meanings with a partner and using drawing to cement their knowledge. Quizlet Live: In this popular activity from Quizlet, students are divided into groups of three or four. Each student on the team then sees 3-4 vocabulary words on their screen — words that they alone are responsible for since no one else on the team has these words. The entire team is then presented with a definition, and the team needs to communicate to decide who has the correct word. If they miss, the team score resets to zero. Quizlet Live emphasizes conversation and collaboration while it helps students learn definitions to vocabulary words.
Level 2 ActivitiesOnce students have some knowledge of the basic definitions, it’s time to guide them to a deeper understanding of the words. Students make connections with images and identify the connotations related to words. Consider using or modifying these activities: Padlet Vocab Gallery: Students find real life images and gifs to represent vocabulary words in a Padlet Vocab Gallery. I set up a Padlet page by making a column for each vocabulary word; I follow this up by adding a few examples to demonstrate what I want students to do: 1) find an image that demonstrates that word and 2) explain it using the vocabulary word. Not only does this help students make connections with the word, but it’s a great formative assessment for spotting where students aren’t fully grasping the subtle meanings of words or where they’re struggling with correct usage.
Read more: 3 Teachers that are crushing assessments with ed-tech
|Word type||Noun||Noun||Verb||Verb||Noun & verb||Adjective|
|Short definition||A short true story||A hardship||A compliment||To imitate; to be like someone||To try hard to achieve a goal||Hard working & detailed|
|Related to PE class||A humorous story the coach told||Trying to run a mile without stopping||Coach telling you good work in weight lifting||Adopting the training routine of a top runner||Striving to run a mile under six minutes||Tracking your speed improvements in the mile|
|Related to Thoreau's Walden||Thoreau writes anecdotes about ants||Thoreau must often deal with adversity of weather||Walden should be commended for surviving in the forest alone||Some people emulate Thoreau and live off the grid today||Thoreau endeavored to raise his own food||Thoreau was diligent about writing regularly|