Vocabulary Blogs

In a stack of papers called Technology.

  • Apr
  • 06
  • 2006

Blogs allow for great interaction between author and reader. They also allow for interaction between different readers, something every other media does little to encourage. But if you read something and never talk to anyone else about it, what’s the point? And if it’s only a monologue, even more so.

With vocabulary study, things like The Amazing Flash Card Machine can come in quite handy. But what if studying vocab was more of a conversation? What if it was a conversation where students could practice using the very words they are studying?

Using my Grazr idea from yesterday, I created a vocabulary blog, where the title of each blog entry is the vocab word and the actual entry is just the definition. That blog generates an RSS feed of my vocab lists and it’s a pretty quick task to enter all the words for a week; I created one week’s list in less than 5 minutes. Plugging that feed address into Grazr, I have a study page for one week’s worth of words and they are the specific words I select for my students to study. Since I did this all by creating a blog for my vocabulary, students can visit a page for a particular word and leave comments by clicking on “Go to site/Read More.”

Send In The Blogs

Create a blog over at Blogger and start writing lots of short postings. With the title of each post as the vocabulary word and the entry as the definition, Blogger will do the work of turning your lists into an RSS feed. Really, any blogging software will work for this. Using something like WordPress would allow you to set category names to designate the different vocab lists for each week, providing a different feed for each category. Take that feed and put it onto your site so your students know the vocab words.

RSS has made it easy for students to see the list of words. Now give them access to the blog so they start talking about the words instead of just seeing them. Students can leave comments of better definition, sample sentences, use of the words in “real life,” links to images that show the word, questions about how to use the word, and the like. Now you’ve got a conversation developing.

I know it’s not that simple. You may have to “require” comments at first and there will surely be a certain amount of the artificial in all this. It’s never easy to get students to spend even more time on something they typically hate, but maybe this is a way to make studying vocabulary more meaningful, to make it social.

I’ll do this next school year and keep you updated. Care to contribute to the idea party? Comment.


1. Writing Teacher says:

[10/25/2008 - 1:59 am]

You have some pretty cool ideas on how to merge technology and teaching. I’m looking for ideas on how to teach writing skills using technology. We’re using the net as a channel for some kids writing courses (which is off to a solid start) and teaching blog writing to adults (which isn’t). I’m also experimenting with some vocabulary games.

I’m looking at how to make learning games more of a conversation. Or, I’d like to be….john

2. Todd says:

[10/25/2008 - 9:57 am]

It’s all about Quizlet for online vocab study. I haven’t found a free tool that comes anywhere close to what they do. Even the pay sites are only marginally more interesting (I don’t know if they are better, just different).

I’ve seen students using Quizlet throughout the week, bragging about their scores, and cramming before the test with one of Quizlet’s several options for studying. The Amazing Flash Card Machine has been left in the dust. Because it only does one thing, everything AFCM does, Quizlet does better.

The vocabulary blog didn’t take off. We tried it for a while, but students didn’t use it to study so it wasn’t a great return on investment of time. It’s really hard to create a conversation with lots of people who don’t want to engage and/or who have alternate communication channels.

3. Cornelia says:

[1/11/2009 - 3:55 pm]

As a teacher, I like this idea of using conversation about words as an aid to learning them! I’ve got an idea that might stimulate student participation.

Vocab experts agree that simply learning definitions is not sufficient for true learning, which requires a multi-layered approach. Such an approach should include illustration, context, and repetition.

Conversation would certainly provide all three!

One way to aid or stimulate conversation might be the use of images in conjunction with the words. For example, you could include images with your words and the conversation might focus on whether or not the students think the images appropriately reflect the meanings of the words you’ve paired them with. You could pair a word with multiple images and then ask your students which image reflects the word meaning best.

This approach would obviously prompt some “deep thinking” of the sort that experts say is necessary in word learning and if the images were good ones, that could make the conversation lively! Here’s a cool free site that gives vocabulary flash cards with photographs of the kind you might use.

4. Cornelia says:

[1/11/2009 - 4:02 pm]

Oops, I goofed–so if you want to see that site with the vocabulary flash cards and photographs, click on my name in the previous entry (or this one, since I’ll no doubt make the same mistake :))

5. Craig says:

[8/19/2010 - 8:04 pm]

Memorize.com is pretty compelling for vocabulary. Might be interesting for what you’re doing. On the memorize.com pages you create, you can add introductory paragraphs and headings that are separate elements on the page from the vocabulary. Also it lets you break lists of vocab words down into smaller easier-to-digest groups, with related ones together.

6. Rao says:

[12/3/2010 - 7:14 pm]

Great for vocabulary study. Nice simple interface for learning synonyms and antonyms.

7. Abhishek says:

[3/18/2011 - 5:41 pm]

We have started a blog on picture dictionary http://www.pixionary.blogspot.com which will be helpful for everyone who has passion to learn vocabulary
You get a daily dosage of words.
We took utmost care in handpicking of images so they encode in users brain forever.

We encourage users sending us words,pictures and credit goes to them in our site.
All suggestions/improvements are always welcome

8. Chad the Cheesehead says:

[3/2/2012 - 1:11 pm]

I love your creativity! P.S Where do you live?

9. Jardine says:

[2/26/2013 - 8:05 pm]

As a prospective teacher in training, I deeply believe that vocabulary building plays an integral part of student academical developmental process. Teachers must be inventive and innovative in disseminating explicit, direct and fun vocabulary methodologies to enhance and motivate student’s vocabulary. I share the sentiments that vocabulary development is not merely just reciting or memorizing definitions and as educators, we must seek to assist our students in understanding true vocabulary and owning it. We need to focus on ways students can learn words from the various content area we impart in order to acquire an awareness and love of words through play. Through play experiences, we boost students’ interest level in manipulating, creating and expressing words as a means of facilitating our student’s needs. We do not want our approach to teaching to appear mandatory, dictating and overwhelming, as this will inflict lack of interest and or a negative attitude towards vocabulary building. Vocabulary building should be taught in a simple and interesting way so that students learn new words involuntarily or automatically by playing with words and creating meaning.
Additionally, helping or guiding students to become independent vocabulary builders is also important in the learning and teaching process. Utilizing context clues, word parts and dictionary of course, are effective strategies that can lead to great vocabulary development. Vocabulary building is an important key element where student’s literacy ability is concerned therefore, when students mastered vocabulary-building techniques eventually their fluency and thinking ability levels are also increased. It is of vital importance for us as teachers to model for our students what we expect of them, if we want our students to have a positive attitude towards vocabulary building we first must portray that quality. Classrooms attitude and behavior toward various teaching content area are highly contagious therefore, we must seek to impart to the best of our abilities.