Set up Teacher Tools for the new school year

Our users have told us that setting up student accounts is one of the places where the most friction occurs in trying out new educational software tools. We want to make the process of using our Teacher Tools as easy as possible. So we have taken two steps to make your life easier. First, we have implemented SAML (Security Assertion Mark-up Language) for schools using this technology for data federation, identity management or single sign-on (SSO). If your school uses single sign on service with SAML, teachers and students can use their school account info with Wordsmyth Teacher Tools. Read the help document to learn more about SAML setup.

Second, we are also exploring possible integration with Google Classroom, Canvas, and other learning systems. . Please let us know what Learning Management System your school is using, And please help us understand your specific needs in student account management, so we can decide which classroom integration we should prioritize.

Vocabulary learning through reading support

From users’ feedback, we realized that some users have difficulty understanding and making full use of our Wordlist Maker. So we have updated the Wordlist Maker, adding help information on the page and a linking to a Wordlist Maker User Guide. We have also improved the algorithm for wordlist extraction.

The Wordlist Maker can automatically extract vocabulary words from any text. There are two types of words that support reading and vocabulary learning. First, readings on many topics contain low frequency words that students are less likely to know. And some of them are important to the topic of the text. We call these “Challenge Words”. Second, the Wordsmyth Vocabulary Inventory was developed from an analysis of The Educators Word Frequency Guide. The WVI identifies Academic Vocabulary words and sorts them into 5 levels. These words are frequently used in educational texts across many different topics, rather than being related mostly to a particular topic.

  • Challenge wordlist: Pre-reading: Research suggests the value of going over those words before reading. Reading the text will help to reinforce the word knowledge students acquire from pre-reading review. And your students will be able to enjoy a smoother reading experience, without being interrupted by having to look up words.
  • Academic vocabulary (WVI) wordlist: Practice and assess these vocabulary words before and after reading. They will be important tools for learning content across the curriculum. You can help students improved their vocabulary through reading and improve their reading through vocabulary.

Vocabulary Notes & Quotes

Here is a quote from one of the more important books about teaching vocabulary: Isabel L. Beck, Margaret G. McKeown and Linda Kucan Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction 2nd Ed., The Guilford Press, 2013.

“A rich vocabulary supports learning about the world, encountering new ideas, enjoying the beauty of language. A rich vocabulary enhances an interview, allows one to see the humor in wordplay, shores up what an individual wants to say, and, especially, wants to write. It is clear that a large and rich vocabulary is the hallmark of an educated individual. Indeed, a large vocabulary repertoire facilitates becoming an educated person to the extent that vocabulary knowledge is strongly related to reading proficiency in particular and school achievement in general.”

In this edition of our newsletter, we’d like to invite all of our users – especially teachers – to tell us about your interest in vocabulary. For some people, “vocabulary” may mean a weekly challenge to learn the meanings of new words, making reading less of a burden. For others, “vocabulary” may mean learning words important for a new job – opening the doors to a new profession or career. And some may want to focus on the deeper meaning of the most important words in our language – perhaps kindness or joy, justice or forgiveness, love or solitude. All of these are possible ways to relate to “vocabulary”.

We hope to hear from you about your interests in words. Write to support@wordsmyth.net and your thoughts may appear in one of the future editions of this newsletter.