One Verizon Thinkfinity resource that is ideal for building vocabulary is the Crossword Puzzle from ReadWriteThink. In this interactive, students can create their own crossword puzzles using vocabulary words or spelling words. Then students have to write a clue/short definition to help others know what word goes in the puzzle boxes. At the end, students can have a classmate complete their puzzle or they can print off their puzzle for others to complete.
The website Free Technology for Teachers this week features a great Thinkfinity resource for ESL/ ELL students. "Eye on Idioms hosted by ReadWriteThink is a good complementary resource that students can use to practice identifying and using idioms. Eye on Idioms presents students with an incomplete sentence that they need to complete by selecting the proper idiom from a drop-down menu. To help students select the correct idiom, Eye on Idioms provides a picture hint. After selecting the correct idiom, Eye on Idioms asks students to answer a couple of short questions about the meaning of the idiom."
I work with small groups. For lower grades, I use smartboard and we complete each task together. Then students explore other idioms with me from texts/workbooks and they create mini-books of their favorite idioms with their own creative illustration.
With upper grades this serves as an intro to a unit on idioms, with each student working independently or just 2 students paired as they complete the eye on idioms tasks. From there, students research for additional sites...and create their own power point presentations, (similar to eye on idioms format) highlighting their newly found idioms. Then they share with the rest of the students. They especially enjoy that!
Text/workbooks that I use to supplement are Raining Cats and Dogs and Sticky Fingers - (Dormac)
Hope that helps...
This sounds similar to something I've been trying to design but for a completely different purpose. Which is a tool for students to use cooperatively for maintaining a map of their entire ontology. Its based entirely on the semantic web tools and is part of the process by which they connect facts to references to them. I think the approach adds a great deal more dimension to language because it permits each word to be a very sophisticated object, clearly separates meanings, contexts, and the entire "virtual reality" that every word seems to create in our minds. I think it makes the true utility of each word more visible and interesting.
The concept of virtual reality for words is intriguing, and certainly rings true for language learners' needs to "own their words" - and that is only possible when words have personal meaning/connections.
Do you have some resources/ web designs that you can share? I am sure all of us would appreciate having some new tools to add to our repertoires!
Thanks, ananias, for becoming a new member our group,
Unfortunately no. But it's mainly because progress on the semantic web is proceeding without any help from me. You can find a great deal about it merely by searching for the term. The best resource I know of for getting a better grasp on language are the books of Steven Pinker. ("The stuff of thought" is one of my favorite books of all time. If you search youtube for his name you'll find a lot of excellent discussions of his work.) He's made a lot of progress on revealing the atoms of knowledge itself. It forced me to think about what kind of a thing a word actually is. It's a very dumbfounding question; one that sat sorely in my mind for years before that answer (a kind of virtual reality) finally dawned on me.
But perhaps the man who's made the greatest contribution to my perspective is Muhammad Yunus, who invented "micro-banking" and wrote an excellent (short and concise!) book to explain how he did it titled "Banker to the Poor." (And received a nobel prize for this work.) What he actually did was outline a general strategy for painlessly upstaging any aspect of our culture. I started to look at civics from that perspective and that led to me to the conclusion that it's our method of education itself that most hampers our innate creativity and open-mindedness. We are trying to teach (which is like trying to herd cats, or push on a string.) It couldn't be more counterproductive because it actually makes learning painful. Our minds evolved to exploit, not to understand. (That we understand something usually doesn't even dawn on us until we're trying to explain it to someone else.) Our minds seem designed to pull us, and just naturally experience being pushed as very unpleasant. This seems to explain why educators have to work so hard to compel children. The best ones aren't any better at actually teaching, the trick they've mastered is winning the love and respect of their students. The students are not learning the material for what it empowers them to do, but because they've been so deeply moved to please their instructors. The book "Work Hard. Be Nice." (rather unwittingly) explains this.
I'm trying to explain why I see teaching vocabulary as akin to putting the cart before the horse. It's just needlessly rough on the horse and the driver. A great many more words would be learned if we approached it from the other direction: What context makes the utility of this word essential? How do we make that context an inevitable part of a student's world? It's really why I'm here at this particular website. Because Verizon seems to be an entity in an excellent position to profit greatly by completely upstaging education in a most beautiful and painless way. I want to explain why I believe this is the case, and gave a very specific example in a reply to the blog How To: Write Questions That Stimulate Discussion. All that is needed to make this happen naturally is a web site and "child's toy" (a sort of phone/ipad suited to allow new educational and civic technologies to be developed.)
The greatest challenge facing actual educators today (verses administrators, boards, etc.) doesn't appear to be the students but the infrastructure and even our culture itself. I personally have no standing to say anything at all about education. I'm nobody. Scott "average citizen." But I honestly see many inherent conflicts in the present infrastructure (the grade system itself is too digital for things as analog as children!) It isn't about grades at all--but skills, perspective, and experience. I want to explain a way for the teachers here to create a virtual reality that elegantly compels not just children, but literally everyone, to become addicted to exploring the cognitive space that we both create and share. To painlessly obsolete the entire present infrastructure by evolving a more natural and effective one that completely upstages it. A new technology for civics itself that compels us all to learn.
I must apologize for dragging you through what must be an almost alien terrain. But in my mind education is the lion's share of civics. There simply is no way to disentangle them, nor should we wish to. The whole basis for educating our children is to ensure they will be deeply enfranchised. By creating fun, rewarding, and clearly meaningful roles for everyone in civics we can create the incentive to make knowledge itself something that children positively crave their entire lives. I must run and won't be back till tomorrow.
Wow—lots of different thoughts in one reply!
Ananias, I'm wondering if your main focus is civics, and you are applying those ideas to lots of different areas within education. I hope you'll consider starting a community group on civics where you can build a central place to discuss some of those concepts. While all your thoughts here may apply, at some level, to English Language Learners, I feel there's a larger philosophy you're interested in exploring. Forming a group would help you find folks who are interested in collaborating on those broader ideas about the relationship between civics and education.
(Note there are some good How to: Use Groups in the community if you're interested.)
Hope that's helpful!
Another easy vocabulary exercise is to create a bingo sheet with squares. You can make it as big or small as you like. Read out the words; the students write one word in each square, any square they wish. They practice spelling as well.
You read the definition for one of the words and the students use a marker or make an X on the correct word. You may use definitions of other words that are not included on the list in order to make it more difficult if you want. The winner gets some kind of prize, a sticker or an apple, whatever you like to do.
The students enjoy this, it's simple, and it's an easy way to review vocabulary and spelling.
I like the idea of having the students write the words on the Bingo card. Why didn't I think of that? I spent hours creating Bingo cards and laminating them so they were prepared for the students. It is much more meaningful to have the students create the Bingo cards. I like too how they have to spell the words themselves.
Do you correct them if they spell the word incorrectly?
I wouldn't give the student the credit for winning if the word was spelled in correctly. You can also build on the game, maybe making spelling more important after the students have played the game a few times.
I'd like to know other resources from Thinkfinity. I want to use the comics creator and the vocabulary suggestions. Does anyone know other useful games or activities from the Thinkfinity site that have proved useful to you?
Check out some unique web sites for vocabulary building, phonetics, etc. for ESL students. It's amazing the number of fantastic web sites linked on this page.
I am new to teaching English Language Learners. My students are in elementary school and I am trying to come up a practical manner of exposing them to academic words. Any suggestions?
Also, the individual that suggested the bingo activity with students doing the writing can take it a step further to allow the students to then cut their cards up into individual word cards to add to their word banks. Just a thought.
Thanks for your help!
I often use the concept of vocabulary clusters...
The children love to be "experts", so I allow each one to focus on a specific group of words...
Examples could be: rooms in the house - living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom...OR
occupations - farmer, mayor, librarian, utility worker, veterinarian...OR any other topic...
Depending on level of student, they can research their own set of vocab, or you can supply list for them
They create picture/flash cards, use words in sentences, and create poster display...as well as a set of "test questions" or "matching game" for their classmates to demonstrate recall and understanding of new vocab...
As the expert they then spend several days "teaching" their words to the rest of the class - and asking their sets of "test questions"...
The kids just love doing this and they gain oral, as well as, written experience...
Teaching idioms is difficult for any teacher helping English students learn the language. So for ESL/ELL students, idioms can pose an even greater challenge.
Check out the interactive Turn-O-Phrase and let us know what you think about using this creative resource to help children understand idioms. It's not a Thinkfinity resource, but I think this simple game of identifying colloquial phrases from a set of two pictures has some educational possibilities.
It would be easy to create your own offline version of the game with a collection of pictures cut out of magazines or printed from online sources. This could even be a project for your students to create and share with their classmates.
The one downside of using Turn-O-Phrase is that you have to sign in with a Facebook or Twitter account after you have tried a few challenges.
Thanks for this! I could make this work for high school students who need to learn idioms. You and Tammy are always offering great suggestions. I appreciate the input from this group.
Is anyone using apps in ESL teaching yet? I'm going to look into a few of them.
I am the creator of Turn-O-Phrase, and I am glad you are finding the game useful. I am also happy to report that you can now log in with your email address, so Twitter and Facebook are not the only options anymore.
Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for the game.
It's so exciting to read that you are the creator of Turn-O-Phrase. I enjoy finding resources for teachers and trying them to see if they would benefit students in the classroom. You are the first person to notify me that you are the author of the resource I am recommending. I really am glad you have joined the Verizon Thinkfinity Community, and I look forward to reading more of your posts. Some of the discussions may provide inspiration for you to create additional programs for students. Thanks for creating useful web tools to assist teachers in helping their students learn.
Verizon Thinkfinity Community Host
I'm new to Thinkfinity so I am not very sure of what all is available yet (still learning the site). BUT I have had great success using a Rating system (taken from Marzono) to learn academic vocabulary. Example: Vocab word is Main Idea students rate themselves on a scale of 1-4. 1 = never heard this word, 2 = heard this word but don't know what it means, 3 = I know something about this word maybe an example of it, 4 = I could teach this word to the class. Then we discuss the word write down a definition and make a quick sketch. The next day we would play a game with the words we learned the day before. On the last day of the week, we would review the words and rate our new words again (with what we know now). It is a great way for students to tell me what they already know about a word and it helps me know how much time I will need to spend on that word.
For middle grade students, building knowledge of affixes is important so when they encounter high school text books, they have some of the skills necesssary to navigate the readings. The interacitive Flip=a=chip, builds knowledge of prefixes and suffixes,, http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/flip-chip-30031.html#overview.
I first learned about this tool in a graduate workshop in 2003, based on the 2002 article. At that time we used poker chips to demonstrate the strategy. This is an alternative to the online interactive.
Thanks for reminding me of this great online resource, Flip-a-chip! When I went through to explore this again, I made a mistake and dragged a word to the wrong place in the story and was glad to see that I could scroll back through the choices on top to find the appropriate word and place it on top on my incorrect word. This resource is great for practicing reading comprehension since the students have to pay close attention to how the story reads.
Hi I am also new to Thinkfinity and I think it is a wonderful resource that can be used in the classroom. It has a wealth of information and interactive lessons for students with special needs. I have used foldables in the classroom to aid student in vocabulary development and retention. Here's how it works! Fold an 8 1/2 x 11 letter size paper in half horizontally. On the outside cover write the vocabulary word. Then fold it in half vertically so you have a four square. Once open students write the definition of the word in the top left square, then they write a sentence in the top right square. Third, they write an anecdote or funny story about the word in the bottom left square and finally, they write/draw an illustration in the bottom right square. This is a great way to use vocabulary interactively, and it also allows the students to retain these words for future use. The teacher is not actually doing the work, so students can be empowered and take ownership for this work. How many times we place vocabulary words on the word wall never to be used again. Word walls should be interactive and used as a tool for enhancing and building vocabulary.
Thanks Andrea! Your suggestions are so clever...it really personalizes the new vocabulary for the students. Have you done this with common vocabulary as well as content area (science/social studies terms)?
I look forward to trying your method!
BTW...welcome to our group...be sure to introduce yourself, too! We look forward to more of your great ideas...
I did not see very much in the posts about adult learners. However, a great resource that has dramatically improved over the years is the Oxford Picture Dictionary. It is full of level appropriate information and pictures for adults. It allows the vocabulary to be discussed in context with guided practice activities and communicative practice and applications all while providing possibility for multi-leveled instruction (if needed). It can be used as a standalone tool or even on smart boards (it has computers interactive components). There are so many more possibilities with the OPD now than what there were before.
I also liked seeing Ananias' comment about Steven Pinker... I, personally really like The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, but I would also suggest reading Linguistic Categorization by John R. Taylor. They both present interesting perspectives in the field of cognitive linguistics and helps one see the importance of vocabulary in language development.
Thinkfinity vocabulary resources... I really enjoy Wonderopolis.org! It has all kind of links to click on to expound on vocabulary and even has vocabulary lists made from the theme of the wonder for that day. So, you can have a new vocabulary list every day! Vocab, visuals/videos, and context... always a great combination for learners!
Happy reading and investigating!