If Words Were People: Vocabulary Social Media Screenshots

Updated: Jun 6, 2019


Teaching vocabulary has been the bane of my teaching existence for the past 14 years.


Anyone who knows me, knows I am anti-vocabulary books. They're boring, promote skill and drill, and have a ton of research against the practice of using them as the primary form of vocabulary instruction. And while I'm not against having students complete exercises with new words, I'd much rather they use programs such as Vocabulary.com or Membeam which are computer-adaptive or individualized and provide us with real-time data on our students' grasp of new words.


Therefore, every year I try to brainstorm new ways to encourage my students to play with vocabulary.


I teach 14 and 15 year olds. They are immersed in social media. They are also part of a very visual generation. So what better way to keep them engaged and provide them a memorable visual of a new vocabulary word than by having them create vocabulary social media screenshots?


Before asking them to create some vocabulary social media screenshots, I had my students identify their individual top troublesome words via Vocabulary.com. Students chose their top five troublesome words, the top words they had struggled to learn this semester.


I then asked my students to imagine that these vocabulary words were people. What would their personalities be like? What would their hobbies be? What would their profiles look like if they used social media? Using these brainstorms, they then created a screenshot of a social media profile or text message thread of the word. These social media screenshots had to showcase the meaning of the word and had to fill the entire screen.


I did not provide templates for my students to use. I told them to figure it out and they did (I'm nodding to Kayla Delzer here). Many took out their phones and screenshotted the actual social media app and then pasted these images into PowerPoint and wrote over top of them. Many just created the image from scratch in PowerPoint, using my screenshots or their experiences with these social media programs as examples. Some discovered and use ifaketextmessage.com to create their text message threads.


For their images, many took their own. But for those who didn't, I directed them to Unsplash, my favorite free image website.



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