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Monday, January 12, 2015

Smashing Vocabulary

Today one of my district technology representatives came to my campus to teach my students (and me) how to 

It turns out that most of us are already doing this every day, but I actually learned some things. 

We started by using Pic Collage to create a collage relating to one of our vocabulary words from last week (innovative, amicable, and inquisitive). The kids were able to use text, web images, classroom photos, and app stickers to show the meaning of the assigned word. 

We then imported the collages into Thinglink. This app and website is completely new to me. Thinglink allows you to create interactive pictures. The user can add hover-over icons that contain text, links, pictures, and videos. My students were adding everything from definitions to captions to videos. 

When I asked how the kids felt about this activity versus our usual hand-made creations, most stated that they liked this better. This is definitely one to add to my repertoire, and I can see numerous possibilities already with Thinglink. I definitely have to find some play time for myself. 

Class examples:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wizards, Wizards, Everywhere! (Updated 8/29/2016)

Word Wizard is an unexpected success! The first day back from winter break, I presented the idea. By the second day, I was in shock. 

When presenting the idea of being on the lookout for our vocabulary words in the world outside of my classroom, I was not met with the greatest enthusiasm. In every class period, I had students ask if they had to do it. I insisted that this is a truly optional assignment, and many seemed quite pleased. 

In the two following days, student after student approached my class tutor and me about having heard, read, or used (I will explain there creative approach to earning points in a second) our vocabulary words. I honestly was not even expecting them to remember the words we covered for the first semester, especially after two and a half weeks off. 

The really surprising part? The students who came to us with the words have been predominantly male and predominantly the goofballs. And I think that it is important to make a big note of this. Sometimes we think those goofballs are not paying attention because they are screwing around. Challenge them. I bet you, too, will discover that they are more in tune to your class than you may realize. 

So where are they finding words? These are just a few examples. 

  • "Family Guy" - The night I presented the lesson, many of the kids went home and watched this show. In a bar scene, one character called another a runt.

  • Song lyrics - One student sent me a screenshot for the lyrics of the song "Pompeii." He heard the word rubble

  • Conversations - A student came to us at the end of the day, stating she had heard some other students talking, and one had used the word preposterous
  • Text messages - This is where my boys got a little creative. They are having text messages conversations, using our class vocabulary words. I look at it this way: they are using the words! 

  • Books - I have some students double-blocked for my English class and my READ 180 intervention class. In READ 180, we were working on independent reading. A double-blocked student found two of our English class words in his book. 
On my word wall, I have created a Word Wizard chart. Every time a word is submitted, we put a star next to it. If the kids continue at the pace they started last week, I am going to have to come up with a much larger chart. 

Side note: During my team meeting time on Thursday, my math colleague noticed and asked about the chart. He thought it was a really good idea. Now if I could just get him to use it in his class, too...


I am now on year three of my Word Wizard adventures, and my students continue to impress me tremendously. I taught the word empower on the first day of school. By the second day, two students came to me with a life-outside-of-class encounter. A week in, and we are up to eight encounters, plus two from me. Today I found the word empowering on a catalog and empower in a Twitter post:

 And of course, I sent out it to my students using Remind. The school day may end, but empowering my students to continue learning in every environment does not.