Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vocab Grabber Will Grab Your Attention!

As I've discussed in an earlier post, I have been exploring two RSS feeds--Bloglines and Google Reader. I have been pleased with the RSS feeds that I've set up so far. It is nice to view them in one online location (or in my case, two locations) as opposed to filling up my email box. Today I'm sharing vocabulary sites--one that impressed me and one that disappointed me.

I recently came across Vocab Grabber http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber/# which is a free program developed from Visual Thesaurus, a site that I discussed in an earlier post. Vocab Grabber works a little differently than Visual Thesaurus which focuses on one word. In Vocab Grabber, you copy and paste a portion of text. It then sorts and creates a "word cloud" of the most frequently used words from that text. Vocab Grabber provides definitions of selected words in a side window and sorts the words into academic categories.

Free Technology for Teachers suggests a great time-saving use to install the Vocab Grabber bookmarklet (a drag and drop installation) which allows the user to generate a vocabulary list from any Internet page. For educational use, the site explains that Vocab Grabber "provides teachers with a way to quickly pick out which difficult words students may run into in a text. From the results Vocab Grabber provides you can then determine which words your students may need to study in a vocabulary lesson". I think Vocab Grabber offers a great visual display of words that will generate good student interest and involvement.

I also wanted to share a site I found earlier this year called Montage-a-Google http://grant.robinson.name/projects/montage-a-google that supposedly helps to develop flexible thinking by featuring visual images to accompany the multiple meanings of words.

Educational uses from TeachersFirst suggest using an interactive whiteboard with this site to "create a visual anticipatory set/activator for ANY term you plan to teach that day." It could be used to build background as you introduce new vocabulary before reading or in an art class to create their own drawing for words they think of. After your students master Montage-a-Google, you might want to try the reverse guessing game, Guess-the-Google.

My exploration of the site provided some interesting results but mostly disappointing ones. I did not find many "multiple meanings" with words I inserted and it did not pick up on slang words--ie "bread" simply resulted in photographs of various types of bread and did not include "money." And a cautionary note: the word "cash" provided photos of Johnny Cash in addition to one where he was using the finger. Not acceptable at my elementary site and probably not at many sites. Thus, as with any site or material, preview before use.

There are so many wonderful educational sites out there and it is difficult to remember every single one that you find. But I'm hoping that my search will offer a few worth checking out and remembering to use in the future.

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