Here are some of the best learning hacks we’ve added to VocabularySpellingCity over the last few years. Enjoy, and may your students benefit.
1. Vocabulary and Writing. Students need both to build their vocabulary and to practice writing. A teacher in Davie, FL, suggested that VocabularySpellingCity provide an activity that allowed students to write a sentence for each word on their list. So we created Sentence Writing Practice, which both builds experience with the words and offers practice to build writing skills.
2. Practice Designed for Vocabulary Learning. Many online exercises aren’t designed to improve student learning. A teacher in Texas worked with us on the design of our CLOZ activity, WhichWord Sentences, to make sure that after the student selects the right word, the sentence stays on the screen and is read out loud to the student, which reinforces the vocabulary practice and improves retention.
3. Student Motivation. At ISTE 2015, a teacher from California explained to me that too often, her students just guess on the multiple choice phonics and vocabulary exercises. So we added on-screen scoring stars which show the pattern of right and wrong. This simple visual scoring system motivates students to try to get the right answer and has cut down on the guessing problem. See this in Which Initial Sound, Which Final Sound, WhichWord Sentences, and WhichWord Definitions.
4. Assignments. Many teachers mentioned early in VocabularySpellingCity’s evolution that they wanted a way to assign specific lists with specific activities to students. BAM! We created student assignments as a major benefit for Premium Members. Teachers can assign exactly what each of their students should do and then see at a glance whether they’ve done it, along with the results.
5. Immediate Feedback and Reinforcement. After a spelling or vocabulary test, VocabularySpellingCity provides the student with immediate feedback on which words were right or wrong. Immediate, not the next day or week, as when the test is graded manually. And there are immediate steps to learn the correct spelling. Students can look at what they did and the correct spelling. They can click on the word and the “TeachMe” function kicks in. And best of all, they can retake a test, but only on the words that they spelled wrong.
6. Review Lists for Multiple Exposures on Problem Words. Many educators have commented that skills accumulate through a process of multiple contacts and usage of skills. VocabularySpellingCity has an automated review list feature, simply the best thing since sliced bread. After any number of weekly tests, a teacher can click “Generate a Review List for Each Student” and a custom list for each student will be built out of the words that they get wrong on previous tests! The review list feature is chock full of options: for instance, a review list can also be generated from the most common mistakes of an entire class or a group of students. And yes, a review list can be made up of the results from a set of review list test results. Got it?
7. Groups of Students. In the early years of VocabularySpellingCity, many teachers asked for a way to be able to group students. So we made it possible for a teacher to assign activities to a class, a group of students within a class, or to individual students.
8. Engage the student. Many learning and teaching models emphasize that learning is a process which often starts with engagement. An example of how our activities engage is Which Initial Sound, which provides students with quick definitions of the academic or content vocabulary in the instructions.
9. Phonics, Vocabulary, Spelling, and Writing. Teachers lament the narrowness and inflexibility of many supplementary programs. At VocabularySpellingCity, we’re constantly expanding our offerings so that students, teachers, and schools can get the maximum benefits from one program.
10. No Limits on Usage. VocabularySpellingCity is used throughout the school day in literacy centers and class computer time, and later at home by many students. Through apps for iPad and Android and the unlimited usage model, VocabularySpellingCity gets used an enormous amount in the evening, effectively extending the school day and providing a version of flipping the classroom.