There are so many online resources out there for vocabulary teaching that it can be overwhelming. So, to help, I’ve picked my top three to share with you today (with two honorable mentions). Along with these resources, I’d like to share some ideas for how these tools can be used in the classroom.
Quizizz is a free website that allows you to create quiz questions and then provides you with two main ways to share the quiz with your students. It is similar to other quiz websites like Kahoot or Quizalize, but I prefer Quizizz because of a few snazzy features. One of these features is called “teleport.” Teleport allows you to very quickly search and then copy and paste quiz content from other creators into your quiz. This makes creating a quiz on Quizizz much more time efficient than on similar websites.
Quizizz is also great for younger learners because both questions and answers can be pictures. Another cool feature is that classic mode allows students to work through the quiz at their own pace while still competing with their classmates—great for online or hybrid learning. This mode includes fun power-ups and allows students to reattempt some questions they got wrong.
One underappreciated feature of Quizizz (and Kahoot!) is the Excel template, which allows you to create a quiz directly onto a spreadsheet rather than on their website. After you start to create a new quiz, you can click on “import from spreadsheet” to open a pop-up menu that has a link to “download template.” Once you have the template, you can easily copy and paste questions and answers into your template.
My favorite way to use the template is to have students collaboratively create quizzes. If you upload the template into a shared area, like your class Google Drive or Sharepoint, students can work on quizzes together. I often break my students into a few small groups and ask them to create vocabulary quizzes for their classmates in this way. This is engaging for students, gives the students great vocabulary practice, and is low-prep on the teacher’s part.
Visuwords, developed by Princeton language researchers and students, is what happens when a dictionary meets a mind map. Students can type a word and the software populates an interactive mind map with related words, including synonyms and examples. For example, if you search the word “zoologist,” words such as “animal scientist,” “entomologist,” and “Jane Goodall” appear as color-coded bubbles in the map. The color of the bubble represents the word’s part of speech, and the bubbles are connected by color-coded lines that represent the way these words are connected. So, the learner can use the map to learn that Jane Goodall is “an example of” a zoologist and that an entomologist is “a kind of” zoologist.
This tool is a great alternative to an online dictionary or thesaurus. I prefer using this tool for my more proficient learners, especially in test-prep-oriented classes, such as TOEFL, to help students boost their vocabulary output. The biggest downside is that some learners may find the number of connections overwhelming compared to a single, simple definition.
3. Quizlet Live
Quizlet is probably the most popular platform for flashcard-style learning, but when I began using Quizlet, I was not a big fan of the platform. I felt that when my students played the games like matching cards, they were more focused on their matching speed than actually learning the terms.
However, when Quizlet Live appeared on the scene, my attitude toward Quizlet changed. Quizlet Live is a team-based competitive quiz game and it gets your students saying your key terms aloud and sharing the meanings with each other. A great feature is that students are given time to review terms while you are waiting for everyone to log into the system. It was when I saw my students furiously trying to memorize the terms that I began reintroducing Quizlet to my classroom.
Word Wall is a website that allows you to create vocabulary activities, such as cloze exercises, matching, and even jeopardy-style activities. The best part of Word Wall is the sheer speed. The website is incredibly easy to navigate and creating activities on Word Wall is several times faster than creating a worksheet. The biggest downside of Word Wall is that you can only create three activities for free; after that you need to pay a subscription fee.
Padlet is popular for many types of activities, but it is a great resource for vocabulary learning. There was a period of time when I was teaching hybrid with some students in my classroom, with some joining online. During this time, I began using Padlet to keep track of vocabulary in the novel we were reading as a class. After we read a chapter in our story, I gave students time to choose words from the text to add to our class Padlet. I asked them to post one note on Padlet for each word they learned. I asked them to include the word, a translation, an example sentence, and a picture/drawing. After students wrote their example sentences, I was able to comment on the post and help correct any mistakes. My students were quick to notice my comments and change their example sentences.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with the tools I discussed here as well other useful vocabulary tools. Please leave your comments in the box below!