Whiteboard Wonders: Visualizing Vocabulary

Posted on September 4, 2008


I love my whiteboards. In the first post in this series, I shared the details of arming every student with a whiteboard and a participial phrase lesson using whiteboards. This post shares ideas for using whiteboards to help students tackle vocabulary.

I created the video below using a Flip camcorder. I simply walked around the room, snapped a few clips while students were working, downloaded them to my computer, then used the included moviemaking tool to create: Fun. Simple. Loads of potential. More on that in future posts.


What Do Students Do?

So far, I’ve tried several different activities, all with great success:

  • Students select vocabulary words and draw a picture to represent the word. They then share their pics with groups members to see if they can guess the word. This makes a great bell ringer activity.
  • From their vocabulary list, students create sets of four words: three belong because of some relation, the fourth doesn’t belong. Students can create these individually and share within their small group or create them as a group and share wtih the whole class.
  • Students draw a picture and write a sentence using the vocabulary word. After their first vocabulary quiz, I had students select words they missed or had trouble with to tackle for this activity.
  • Students write True/False sentences applying the word. They can’t simply tell the definition but must instead use the word in context. To determine whether the statement is true or false, they must understand the meaning of the word. Example: Olympic medalists must be indolent if they wish to bring home the gold. If they understand that indolent means lazy, they see the statement is false.
  • In a small group, students create multiple-choice questions to share with the whole class. Example: Which scenario demonstrates sagacity? A. You back off when you see the vein popping in your mother’s forehead. B. You drive the wrong way down a one-way street. C. You don’t crack the driver’s ed manual thinking you don’t need to study to get your license. D. You stand beneath a tree during an intense lightning storm.
  • Write a narrative that incorporates five vocabulary words.
  • With your group, decipher three possible categories for words in your vocabulary list and assign words to the appropriate category. Groups share with whole class.

I’m sure I’ll discover even more ways to use the whiteboards to help students master vocabulary. I’d love to hear any ideas you might have.



Posted in: Projects/Lessons