Mighty Sandbox

Educational Technology Simplified

An mLearning Vocabulary Ecosystem


Today I will walk you through some sample vocabulary instruction that uses 4 different tools: vocabkitchen.com (which I developed), a spreadsheet such as Excel or Numbers, Socrative and Mental.  Some of these are iPad specific and some are not.  I hope you find something you can add to your own classes.  For the examples I chose three English vocabulary words that I thought most readers wouldn't know: augury, repine, and Stygian.  You should use these examples as a template for making your own vocabulary materials.

Pre-instruction with Vocabkitchen.com

Use this site to figure out what students already know about words.  You can enter a vocabulary list or an entire reading text.  You can have students complete this in groups and use it as a discussion starter.  Later, you can use this information to let you know which words need the most attention.

Try the student demo:

Deep Instruction with a Spreadsheet

The goal here is to give students meaningful interaction with new words.  Here are a few key points:
  1. give short, simple definitions that use familiar references
  2. make sure you are using the same meaning throughout your materials for polysemous words
  3. make students responsible for confirming that the translation matches the L1 definition
  4. write example sentences with two gaps - one for the word and one for the student's own idea
On the iPad, open this file with Numbers and try it out:

You can also see an extensive spreadsheet I developed in Excel to accompany the Q-Skills textbook here:

Meaningful Review with Socrative

The obvious use of Socrative is traditional, cloze-style multiple choice or fill in the blank questions, but for a more engaging alternative, use vocabulary words to write open-ended questions.  If students can complete this, it means that they understand the meaning of the word, but it also pushes them to use other related vocabulary.  Here are the questions I wrote with the sample vocabulary words for this demo:

  1. What is an augury of bad luck?
  2. What is something that causes you to repine?
  3. What should you take to a stygian place?
Good questions have these features:
  • students should be able to answer them with a few, familiar words
  • you should not be able to come up with a plausible answer without knowing the meaning of the vocabulary word 
See an example now at Socrative -> Room number: 622255 (this will only be available during the presentation).  Review the socrative results as a whole class, small group, or homework activity.  If you're viewing this after the presentation, the Socrative quiz is just a simple quiz containing the above questions in a short-answer format.

Deep Review with Mental

Mental is a free app for the iPad and is a very simple, easy to use concept mapping tool.  You can read more about using concept maps for vocabulary in this blog post  that I wrote:

Try to create your own map using mental that includes our three demo words: augury, repine, and stygian.


mLearningDemo.numbers (69.4KB)Level 2 Vocabulary.xlsx (30.2KB)