Playing with Vocabulary

I did this a while back but don’t think I ever posted about it 1.

So vocabulary work often is one the most boring things an English teacher (or anyone else) ever does. The beauty of an English class is that you have a fair degree more flexibility when dealing with vocabulary than a lot of subjects.

Here are two ways I wanted to attack words in a way that’d make them stick.

the album

Students pick a word/root/suffix/prefix and then build an album around it complete with cover art and song choices that reflect that theme. You see my Puffy Ego album above with songs like “Your You’re2 So Vain” and “I Love Me.”

It’s simple and pretty engaging for students. The association with music (and likely with music they like) should really help internalize the information.

the t-shirt

Once again, a pretty simple idea. Students take a word/root/prefix/suffix and make a t-shirt3 with it. This could be fun and you could also make posters, hats etc and get the best ones made 4

The point is just to have students think more about the words, to do something real with them and to have a little fun. Were it me, I’d have a variety of options like these and allow students to pick various options each week.


1 It’s possible I did and am bad at searching and worse at remembering

2 I’d thank the commenter for catching the typo if he/she hadn’t been such a jerk about it

3 Here’s a blank template for the t-shirt if you’re interested.

4 or maybe just put on cafepress

Comments on this post

  1. Brian said on November 16, 2008 at 11:32 am

    I really like the album idea. Definitely an authentic activity. My kids certainly love their music, and I bet some of them could envision themselves sitting in a board room piecing together a compilation album in the future.

    Do you have the kids actually create the CDs, or do they just design an album cover? I’ve been trying to think of ways to reward my students for doing well on certain projects. In this case, it might be cool to create physical copies of the best CD in each class for the group members to keep and/or for your class library.

    By the by, that Kenny Rogers song is hilarious. I never heard it before, but I looked it up to see if it was a cover of the Ringo song by the same name. It’s not.

  2. Susan Carter Morgan said on November 16, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to take that template:)

  3. Tom said on November 17, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Brian – I like the idea of a class library of the best mix CDs. You could have a lot of fun with that. Let students who do well pick a word (and as a result) album for the day/week. You play their choice as background throughout that period. There are certainly some copyright issues with that but I leave that to each person’s discretion. 😉 In certain ways it’d probably be easier to do it with iTunes playlists and then control everything through one computer.

    Kenny Rogers is pretty funny. No one can deny the power of his beard.

    Susan – Good deal. Glad it’s useful. I’ve got to find the CD template again. It was a photoshop template if I remember correctly so it’ll be of limited use to some but better than nothing.

  4. Jerry T. said on November 17, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    “Your So Vain”
    Are you an English teacher?

  5. Tom said on November 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I am, or was anyway.

    I got it right on the album, I made a mistake on the post. I make mistakes sometimes. Occasionally I find mistakes in other people’s work and when I do I try not to be an ass about it. Try that. You might end up with some friends.

  6. Mrs. Jennings said on November 5, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    As a new English teacher, I would like to say thank you for your fresh ideas and for trying to find a way to connect to our kids! I will definitely be using the cd idea, and my students are loving the posters 🙂 Thanks!!

    • Tom said on November 5, 2009 at 10:30 pm

      Mrs. Jennings – Thank you. Very kind of you to take the time to write.

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  1. […] I just read about a good example of using authentic skills today while reading through my RSS feeds.  Tom at Bionic Teaching shared an idea for teaching vocabulary – building CD compilations around a specific vocabulary word. […]

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