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Vocab activities for your classroom

VocabGrabbing Technical Jargon

Sometimes our vocational ed (CTE) students have a difficult time reading technical literature because the heavy use of jargon gets in their way, hampering comprehension and frustrating those students who may prefer hands-on learning situations. VocabGrabber can help prevent this experience: students can "grab" a text's jargon beforehand, preview those terms, and then head back to the text with a good understanding of the key concepts they will encounter while reading.

In order to demonstrate how this can work, we copied a reading passage on "Charges and Electricity" from the Jefferson Lab website into VocabGrabber and this is what we found:

As you can see, the highly relevant technical jargon from this reading passage has come up on top in our vocabulary list. You would surely want to explore terms like "Van de Graff generator" and "electron orbit" before launching into a reading of this article. Start by reading aloud the definitions of such terms and how they are used in the context of the article by clicking on each of them and studying the VocabGrabber screens. Then, expand your exploration of such terms by clicking on the word maps and activating the Visual Thesaurus application. Try right-clicking on the terms (control-clicking on the Mac) and you can display enlightening images to reinforce the definitions for your students.

As you can see, using VocabGrabber as a launchpad for word exploration can transform the passive reading of a technical reading passage into an interactive and fun experience for your students.


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Georgia Scurletis is Director of Curriculum for the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com. Before coming to Thinkmap, she spent 18 years as a curriculum writer and classroom teacher. Georgia has written curriculum materials for a variety of Web sites (WGBH, The New York Times Learning Network, Edsitement) and various school districts. While teaching high school English in Brooklyn, she was a recipient of the New York State English Council's Educators of Excellence Award, the Brooklyn High Schools' Recognition Award, and The New York Times' Teachers Who Make a Difference Award. Click here to read more articles by Georgia Scurletis.

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Comments from our users:

Wednesday June 24th 2009, 1:19 PM
Comment by: Salomon D. (Los Angeles, CA)
I'm a community college instructor of Engineering Technology and tested it on some online curriculum and will definitely recommend this to my students.

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Our new vocabulary tool is a boon to teachers and students alike.
VocabGrabber can help students understand a New York Times article.