As a homeschooling family I know plenty about my children's strengths and weaknesses academically. I also know that the responsibility for helping the weaknesses and enhancing the strengths falls on my shoulders.
Vocabulary is one such area with which Pumpkin struggles. We have tried a number of different things from looking up and writing the definition down to buying a program to teach prefixes and suffixes in the hopes that learning the parts would help with understanding the whole. While we had some success with these options, we haven't had enough gain and success to continue with these methods.
Recently in discussing this topic with a friend and the owner/author of our curriculum (Moving Beyond the Page), she gave me a super simple ‘old school' idea that I thought I might as well give a try. It is the way I got through High School, College and Graduate school.
You ready for this earth shattering idea… note cards!
We have been using All About Spelling this year, so when she suggested the idea of note cards to study vocabulary I had the idea of using note cards in combination with the method that All About Spelling uses. In the box we bought with our All About Spelling program there are tabs. They are review, mastered, and future lessons. They teach you to teach the lesson(review tab), have the child demonstrate the learning (card is moved to mastered tab), then to also go back and periodically review the ‘mastered' topics. Nothing Earth shattering there, but at least it gave me a plan of attack, so to speak.
|The inspiration for my review, mastered, future lessons plan in our vocabulary study; the tabs
from our All About Spelling box.
The thing is, I am a modern tech loving type of girl. My daughter really wanted the note cards in physical printed out form. I really wanted them on the computer so I could type them, or better yet, I could copy and paste from dictionary.com. I also wanted them to be in some kind of app that she could study them on my phone or Kindle Fire. I thought that would be more fun. She did not(which I have since won her over…hahaha!).
I set out to find something that would please both of us AND I found it!
The first thing I found is a site called Flashcard Exchange. Flashcard exchange is web-based. On the Flashcard Exchange site you can make any set of flashcard or note cards that your little hearts desires. Picture and audio are available options that you can add to any flashcard set. You can also search for and use flashcards made by other people, if they have set their flashcards for public availability. On the site, you can study your flashcards as well as see the results from your study. All in all, we have found it to be a really helpful site packed full of options. That being said, it is a fairly basic site in terms of graphics and user navigation. Sometimes it can feel a little awkward and clunky to move around.
We paid for a full membership to their site, which was $19.95. This is a once in a lifetime membership fee. I chose to do so because I figured it was a lot less expensive than purchasing a vocabulary ‘program.' The membership was key to me because it allowed me to type or copy and paste vocabulary into the flashcards and be able to print them on my printer rather than writing them all up by hand. It also allows me to add the audio and images should I desire to do so. Lastly the full membership allows me to export my flashcards. For me, exporting was the other very important part to the whole system I wanted to create.
I found an app that works both on my Droid 3 as well as my Kindle Fire. It is also compatible with Flashcard exchange. The app is called, Quizard. It is compatible with Flashcard exchange as well as Apple products, Android, Kindle Fire, and the website says Barnes & Noble(which I assume means it works with their e-reader as well).
Quizard works with Flashcard exchange in that I can log on to my account and download any flashcard set I have made for use in the app. If you are using the free version of the app, you can only load flashcard sets up to 20 cards. I bought the full app after checking it out and making sure I liked it. I am using the free version on my phone and the paid ($2.99) version on my Kindle Fire. I figured it was less money to buy the membership to Flashcard exchange and the Quizard app than to invest in a vocaulary program. I am also only out $22.94 if we figure out later on that this method is not working for us.
What is funny to me is that my daughter who really wanted the paper flashcards, now likes the app better. She still uses the paper version and probably always will, but she likes the other things you can do in the app. Within the Quizard app, you can study the flashcards, play a matching game, do a word search or crossword puzzle, do something they call scatter(definitions and words are scattered across the screen and you drag them to the correct part), take a quiz, or take a test. I like that the app gives us more variety in the ways in which she can study her vocabulary.
What I like most about the vocabulary system we have started using, is that it seems to be working. She is learning the vocabulary and retaining it!! Woot woot!
It used to be that I could use a math term that we have learned over and over (or so it seems to me), like congruent. She would usually say, “What does congruent mean?” or she would look at me like I was from another planet. Recently, I used just that word. She immediately knew what I meant! Yay! Not only that, she felt SO proud at remembering the word! Gotta LOVE that combination!
It seems like such a simple system to go back to ‘old school' note cards. I feel a bit silly that she is in 5th grade and we didn't think of it or use it earlier. I guess I got caught up in looking for something fancier and newer, when perhaps I needed to look more closely at her needs and even what worked so well for me to get the degrees that I have. Of course, I couldn't go truly ‘old school,' I had to find some techie way to make it easier and even a little bit more fun!
I know a number of you who read my blog also use Moving Beyond the Page (the curriculum we use) and/or RightStart Math. I would love to start exchanging flashcard with anyone else who is using this method of vocabulary study and Flashcard exchange. Here is my public home page on Flashcard Exchange. I have made all of my flashcards public and plan to continue to do so. Feel free to use them if they are of use to you. If you find errors in them, just let me know so I can correct them. If you are making your own sets of cards that are from theMoving Beyond the Page curriculum, I would love it if you would tag them with ‘mbtp' and the year. Mine say ‘mbtp' & ‘8to10,' as they are from the 8 to 10 curriculum. If we all were to do this, any others who are using Flashcard exchange and Moving Beyond the Page can find the flashcards and not have to re-create the wheel. I will be posting all of this on the unofficial Moving Beyond the Page forum on facebook. It seems to be the most active community.
Regardless of whether you homeschool, use Moving Beyond the Page or some other program, if you have struggled with vocabulary in your house, you may want to give this a try. It seems to be working for us at the moment and we are enjoying it as well!
Now, I'm off to make some vocabulary cards for our next literature study, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.
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