Week 3…What have others learned about my question?

My Question:

How can digital tools be incorporated effectively in the classroom to dig deeper into Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary words.

With all the buzz about boosting our student’s reading ability in line with the rigors of the Common Core Initiative there must be a boost in the vocabulary as well.  A more broad and complex vocabulary is essential to comprehending the content-rich non-fiction material the new standards demand our students tackle.  I wonder can this task be made a little easier through the use of technology and with some looking into the matter I have found that the answer may be YES.  There are many tools out there (Most for free!) that can easily be used to introduce and instruct the complex vocabulary required in the classroom.

Thankfully, it was not too difficult to come across quite a bit of information on these tools and how to incorporate them in the classroom, but I did not find a lot of research.  The one research article I found (McAllister, Cutcher, UTC, 2011) that is somewhat related to my question focuses more on the visual aspects of teaching vocabulary.  What interested me the most with this article was the discussion on the use of technology in the instruction.  The finding of this research is that vocabulary instruction coupled with visual reinforcement significantly improved learning process.  The methodology employed was focused on a pre-test, visually enhanced instruction, and then a post-test to assess the efficacy of the teaching strategy.

The other articles are heavily focused on what technology tools are available and how to use them in the classroom. Of these my favorite is “eVoc Strategies: 10 Ways to Use Technology to Build Vocabulary” (Dalton, Grisham, 2011), which highlights some very cool ideas for using technology to teach vocabulary.  I gave some of these ideas a try and thought they were just right.

Annotated Bibliography: Vocabulary, Common Core and Technology

 Dalton, B., & Grisham, D. L. (2011). eVoc Strategies: 10 Ways to Use Technology to Build Vocabulary. Reading Teacher, 64(5), 306-317.

            Dalton and Grisham have answered in this article some of the pressing questions that arise when one is looking for direction in using technology in the classroom to teach vocabulary.  Although this is not a definitive article it certainly is a start and opens the door to some of the premier websites and tools that can be used.  A very fruitful and essential work in this area of study.

Hakuta, K., & Council of the Great City, S. (2011). “WordSift”: Supporting Instruction  and Learning through Technology in San Francisco. The Senior Urban Education Research Fellowship Series. Volume IV. Council Of The Great City Schools.

This article is composed of information on one web-based vocabulary tool.  WordSift is a fun and effective tool to incorporate a number of ways within the classroom.  The writers of this article provide great detail on this internet resources many uses in the classroom.  WordSift is easy to use and requires copying any text and pasting into a dialogue box.  Hitting ‘Sift’ removes all of the common words and leaves more complex words arranged randomly with high frequency words in large bold print.  This is a powerful tool for vocabulary instruction and the authors of this article make sure this is clear.

Kilickaya, F., & Krajka, J. (2010). Teachers’ Technology Use in Vocabulary Teaching. retrieved from ERIC on September 26, 2013.

Vocabulary instruction is essential to the increased literacy of our students, especially when the Common Core standards appear to be raising the bar for performance.  Kilickaya and Kraka discuss the need for increased vocabulary instruction and the use of technology to assist in satisfying this need.  As one reads the article some research elements surface such as a surveying of 80 language teachers who are aware of and even use older technology (Computers and CD ROM tools).  These instructor were not aware of or simply did not incorporate new, web-based or APP-based tools to assist in teaching vocabulary.  A good article about using technology in its various forms to support language instruction.

McAllister, D. A., Cutcher, C. L., & University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), C. (2011). Culminating Experience Action Research Projects, Volume 17, Fall 2010, retrieved from ERIC on September 26, 2013.

            This is a culminating article of research done by graduate students at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.  Considering this article is a collection of research done by M.Ed. students the methods used are of importance.  It showcases various educational research efforts one of which is of particular interest due to the attention given to technology used in vocabulary instruction.

Narkon, D. S. (2011). E-Word Wall. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(4), 38-45.

This article talks about the use of electronic word-walls (EWW) to assist with vocabulary instruction for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other exceptional students.  Although word-walls have been commonplace in our classrooms for sometime, the emergence of EWWs to instruct our exceptional students is fairly new. The author explains what an EWW is how to set one up and use it in the classroom followed with good ideas on differentiation and group work as well.

Tabatabaei, O., & Goojani, A. (2012). The Impact of Text-Messaging on Vocabulary Learning of Iranian EFL Learners. Cross-Cultural Communication, 8(2), 47-55.doi:10.3968/j.ccc.1923670020120802.1689

            Teaching vocabulary for English as a First Language (EFL) students has always been challenging.  In this article based on EFL instruction conducted with Iran students, researchers point out the efficacy of using texting for teaching vocabulary.  Since there is data that shows this is viable in the EFL arena vocabulary teacher may want to take notice of methods used with this everyday technology to accomplish the instruction of more complex vocabulary.  This is a very interesting article on an innovative use for common technology.


5 thoughts on “Week 3…What have others learned about my question?

  1. Jamie – I definitely think the more interesting options have to do with the more dynamic applications of web 2.0 tools. I’d be interested to see a focus on these in terms of increasing comprehension and applying tier 2 and 3 vocab words. Web tools that essentially mimic “old-school” tools (flashcards,etc.) won’t do as good of a job at getting kids to the “applying” stage of understanding. But some of the other readings that you listed not only incorporate tools (i.e. text messaging), but also innovative and authentic ways of applying them (to correspond) are far more effective methods and great uses of the technology. Also, just wondering about clarity in your question – you use the words “dig deeper”. I’m pretty sure I know what you mean by that, but you may want to use clearer language to describe what kind of learning you want to see – I look to good ol’ Blooms for that kind of stuff! I like that you are considering looking at more dynamic tools that don’t just “use” technology in the sense that something electronic is involved, but also discuss specific teaching strategies to go with it – so much better than just relying on an app!

    • Hi Tracie,
      Thank you so much for your comment. You pointed out something I completely overlooked and I really appreciate your attention. I did leave the outcome side of the equation too vague to be of any use. Admittedly, I always seem to forget that part. I will dig deeper (there it goes again) into my Bloom’s flip chart and reword with cognitive action verbs. Oh yeah, was this intended for Jamie or Kevin…ether way I’ll take it!
      Thank you so much!

  2. I know that another teacher is going to be looking into spelling, and I’m glad that somebody is going to be looking into vocabulary–the two go hand in hand, and I’m sure that my own students can benefit from whatever resources seem to help you the best. The ways I’m currently teaching vocabulary are a mix between new and old school. The application of vocabulary is simple in my class–they write complete, correct sentences that use the words correctly and also demonstrate that they understand the meaning. It isn’t much different from what I did as a student, but it does give them practice in applying the new words they learn. I hope you can come across something that will make me say “Ahh! I’d never thought of doing it that way!”
    I’ll be waiting eagerly for your results.

  3. Hi Kevin,
    I love the technology focus for vocabulary! I found this site by Susan Oxnevad who lists many different links to vocabulary building sites. http://d97cooltools.blogspot.com/2011/07/cool-tools-for-teaching-vocabulary.html I will continue to follow you through this process, hoping to glean some insight on how to incorporate this into my kindergarten classroom. Perhaps with some modifications. To correlate Blooms for teaching specifically instead of “relying on an app” is a much more focused and meaningful way to teach. I think this relates greatly to our New Alaska Standards where each year they are much more focused and rigorous. Kudos!

    I appreciate your continued support throughout this research process and will continue to look for you on Twitter!

    • Hey Michelle,
      Thank you so much for your input! I checked out the site you mentioned and was very pleased with it. It was precisely what I am looking into. That was very helpful and I really appreciate you sharing it with me.
      Maybe see you on Twitter this Thursday!

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