Knowing that vocabulary provides essential background knowledge and connections to comprehension, one cannot overstate its importance. Dr. Robert Marzano’s research stresses that direct vocabulary instruction follow a six-step process. The technology tools mentioned below provide students opportunities to work with a word in each of the six, researched steps.
STEP 1: Explain
Provide students with a description, explanation, or example of the new term.
- Reveal photos and videos to introduce a new term. Search the site Pixabay for copyright-friendly images and video clips.
- Convey kid-friendly definitions with stunning photographs from Inside Story Flashcards.
- Using QR Codes, create an audio clip of you pronouncing and defining a new term.
STEP 2: Restate
Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.
- Consider using free audio capture tools like AudioBoom and Quick Voice when having students restate.
- Have students demonstrate their understanding of a term by adding meaning to music with the app Songify.
STEP 3: Show
Ask students to construct a visual representation of the term.
- The SketchpartyTV app is a Pictionary style game with the ability to create custom word banks for students to work on representations of terms.
- Give students a digital sketchpad to construct appealing visual representations. (Web Whiteboard works with computers and Paper 53 or Draw and Tell are apps for smart devices.)
- Faces I Make is an app that enables students to create visuals with real-life objects similar to illustrations in the book My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks.
- Students can snap photos of visual representations and create a virtual picture collage using Pic Collage (app) or Canva (computer).
STEP 4: Develop
Engage students in independent activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms.
- Consider having a digital vocabulary notebook for students to compile vocabulary knowledge throughout the year.
STEP 5: Refine
Ask students to discuss the terms with one another, further deepening their understanding.
- Today’s Meet, Padlet and Google Docs provide opportunities for peers to engage in online discussions about vocabulary. These may include brainstorming new examples or applications of the word, noting similarities or differences to other terms, and sharing tips and tricks to avoid common confusions.
- Teachers can moderate ensuring the discussions go beyond the surface to truly deepen meaning. Incorporating a rubric is another way to let students know upfront expectations of online discussions.
STEP 6: Play
Involve students periodically in games that enable them to play with terms.