Working on Vocabulary with 21st Century Tools!
Flocabulary is a web site (we use the free videos) using hip-hop music and curricular materials to teach academic content in grades K-12. Along with the hip-hop song videos are the words that go along with the music. The test taking video uses the words: describe, analyze, etc. in a fun way to get the meaning across to students. Students could create their own hip-hop song after watching the video :)

  • 21st Century Skill: Communication, creativity, computers/technology
  • Best Practice: Marzano vocabulary step 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Reading Goal: Vocabulary development

VocabGrabber allows the user/student to copy and paste text into an area on the screen and then sort the words by curricular area, frequency, familiarity, etc. Words can be selected from the sorted list for use with virtual thesaurus to look for synonyms and build meaning. Noted researcher, Robert Marzano emphasizes the importance of working with words, vocabgrab.pngbuilding student meaning and exploring words as steps in the development of reading vocabulary. This site is one you will want to put on your "radar."
  • 21st Century Skill: Communication
  • Best Practice: Marzano's Similarities and Differences, vocabulary development (steps 2, 4 & 5)
  • Reading Goal: Vocabulary development
  • Video: This is a video demonstration of how to use VocabGrabber created at ESU#3. Click this link to open a new window with the video demo.

Visuwords allows the user/student to look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts and it diagrams that help the student see how words are associated. visuwords.jpgStudents can enter words into the search box to look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree, as students hover over words they see the definition and then they can click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify how words are connected. Marzano's best practices emphasize the importance of using similarities and differences and visual representations (this does both!
  • 21st Century Skill: Communication
  • Best Practice: Marzano--identifying similarities and differences
  • Reading Goal: Vocabulary development

Word Sift:
WordSift helps students sift through written text --they simply cut and paste any text into WordSift and a word cloud is created that is clickable. Students can then click a word and view visual images of the word along with a visual thesaurus. Using the workspace, students can create a visual representation of unknown words, assisting in vocabulary development.
  • 21st Century Skill: Communication and Creativity
  • Best Practice: Marzano--nonlinguistic representations
  • Reading Goal: Vocabulary development


Quzlet: ~ High School Quizlet Example ~ Middle School Quizlet Example ~
The FREE version of Quizlet allows you to enter words, definitions, and pictures that can be used in a variety of ways to work on vocabulary. Flash cards are the main focus, but the gaming format and ability to put in pictures makes this free tool a "plus" for teachers wanting new strategies for helping students develop their vocabulary. This won't be for everyone, but it might be worth a look.
  • 21st Century Skill: Communication, Creativity, ICT Literacy
  • Best Practice: Marzano--nonlinguistic representations, recognition and reinforcing effort
  • Reading Goal: Vocabulary development
  • Demonstration Video from ESU#3: ESU#3 Steaming Video on How to Use Quizlet

Free Rice Vocabulary Builder: Free Rice Vocabulary Builder

FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program that has two goals:
  1. Provide education to everyone for free.
  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free

The web site has an English vocabulary builder with words, definitions, and pronunciation and for each word the students get correct, 10 grains of rice is donated to the World Food Program.
  • 21st Century Skill: Content Knowledge, Communication, Global Awareness
  • Best Practice: Marzano--recognition and reinforcing effort, homework (probably a stretch here) & practice
  • Reading Goal: Vocabulary development

Snappy Words:
Snappy Words is a free visual English dictionary and thesaurus that lets you search the meaning of words and other associated words. Students can type a word into the search box at "Snappy Words" and a visual web of similar words appears. A great interactive word wall.
  • 21st Century Skill: Content Knowledge, Communication,
  • Best Practice: Marzano--identifying similarities and differences
  • Reading Goal: Vocabulary development

Vocab Sushi: logo_new.png
A free trial to learn 10 words is available and might be something to experiment with in your classroom. If nothing else, have the students take the vocab test to get their score and see the word list that is generated at their skill level. Students from the middle level and up would find this tool useful.
  • 21st Century Skill: Communication, ICT literacy
  • Best Practice: Marzano--recognition and reinforcing effort, homework & practice, activities to engage
  • Reading Goal: Vocabulary development

"Vocabulary is not a developmental skill or one that can be seen as fully mastered. The expansion and elaboration of vocabularies is something that extends across a lifetime."
(Kamil & Hiebert, 2005)