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Vocabulary Learning: Formative
Assessment and Online Gaming
Practice with Free or
Inexpensive Digital Resources
Lee Ann Tysseling, Ph.D.
Boise State University
NW Regional NCTE Conference
March 1, 2014
Today we will:
Review three online resources for
Explore free or inexpensive
resources for vocabulary
Look at website/apps review sources
Before We Begin:
Principles of Vocabulary
Teaching individual words
Teaching strategies for learning words
Fostering word consciousness
Stahl, S.A. & Nagy, W.E. (2006).
Teaching Word Meanings.
Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
A Second Look: In the
Explicit teaching of
Exploring words as
they are met
Returning again and
again to new words
that have been
What Does Not
definitions for a
(except for the
most able readers)
for the most
The Latest: NAEP Report
Vocabulary and Reading comprehension are
strongly linked at all grade levels!
Assessment of Vocabulary
The Problem: We don’t have any good assessments
of vocabulary knowledge.
Pearson, P. D., Hiebert, E. H., Kamil, M. L. (2007). Vocabulary
assessment: What we know and what we need to learn.
Reading Research Quarterly 42(2): 282-296.
Scott, J. A., Hoover, M. Flinspach, S. & Vevea, J. (2008). A
multiple-level vocabulary assessment tool: Measuring word
knowledge based on grade-level materials. 57th Annual
Yearbook of the National Reading Conference. V. R. Y.
Kim, D. Compton, D. Dickinson, M. Hundley, R. Jimenez, K.
Leander, D. Rowe. Oak Creek, WI, National Reading
Conference. 57: 325-340.
Some may be in the works
Word Generation Project www.wordgeneration.org
VINE Project (Vocabulary Innovations in Education)
Assessment is complex
Any multiple-choice test that tries to capture
student word knowledge is likely to fall short
of that goal. Assessing word knowledge may
seem simple, just as acquiring word
knowledge may seem simple at first blush.
But words are intertwined with experiences
and background knowledge, can be used
literally or figuratively, occur in idioms and
with multiple meanings, and have nuanced
meanings in different contexts. Assessment
of word knowledge is not an easy task.
Scott, Hoover, Flinspach & Vevea, 2008, p. 336
While We Wait
Possible formative assessment solutions:
General vocabulary development or specific
Adaptive learning—adjusts to success or lack
Varied questions & contexts
Badges and awards
Teachers have access to tracking tools
VocabGrabber Data Possibilities
Vocabulary variety: Different Words over Total Words
Vocabulary Qualitative: Inspection (count) of “Rare Words”
Summary: Formative Assessments
Vocabulary.com: Points—can report directly
to teacher (for a fee)
Free Rice: Level Number—students must
report to you
Qualitative lists of vocabulary used—laborious
Percentage of “different” words over total
Digital Dictionary Resources
Word Consciousness: Notice and explore
www.visualthesaurus.com or www.vocabulary.com
www.wiktionary.com (or wikipedia)
Merriam Webster on-line
“other” link for dictionaries
Many students passionate gamers
69% of all heads of household play computer
and video games.
97% of youth play computer and video games.
61% of CEOs, CFOs, and other senior
executives say they take daily game breaks at
work (p. 11).
McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us
better and how they can change the world. New York,
Penguin Group Incorporated.
Work from the known to the unknown!
Evaluating Quality of Games
Adaptive: gets harder or easier with success
Substantive Feedback: learn as you go
Varied—new contexts/new clues
Repetition: incorrect words are recycled
Review Sources for
Apps for Students with Special Needs:
Common Sense Media:
David O’Brien & Richard Beach:
For Younger Literacy Learners:
USA Today easier & provides clues
Learning Network (New York Times)—designed
Smart Crossword—designed for language
History with emphasis of vocabulary
Our students are sophisticated consumers of
Evaluate games before you recommend them
There are many “chewing gum” games
Give explicit attention to the learning goals
you have for the game!
Model your thinking process as you are
Devote some classroom time to discussion of
Consider a bookmark reminder
Metacognition and Metadiscourse are
Join Our Community
Word Travelers: Using Digital Tools to Explore
Vocabulary and Develop Independent Learners
Tysseling, 2012. Stenhouse Publishers
Lesson ideas (socially constructed—add your own!)
Online Courses this Summer—See Lee Ann
Advanced Content Literacy (CCSS emphasis) in 3-D
Literacy and Technology