Thursday, August 16, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Vocab Videos

It's here.  High School.  My oldest son is beginning 9th grade this fall.

He is yelling gleefully, "I can't believe it!  Only 4 years left and I'm outta here!"

I am sighing mournfully, "I can't believe it.  Only 4 years left and my baby will be gone!"

And we are entering the world of transcripts, credit hours, college searches, and SAT preparation.

I've read that vocabulary counts for up to 150 points on the SAT now.  Out of the 2400 possible points, 800 are math, 800 are language arts, and 800 are essay.  Of the 800 for language arts, vocabulary counts for almost one quarter.  Better get those flash cards ready.

I was looking for some good SAT Prep materials when I was given a chance through The Schoolhouse Review Crew to review Vocab Videos.  These online videos were developed specifically to teach SAT vocabulary words to students.  The series of comical videos with older teens/young adults incorporates 500 frequently tested SAT vocabulary words in short, fun skits that the students will enjoy.  Each word appears on the screen with its meaning; the narrator pronounces the word and states the meaning; and then a section of the skit is shown illustrating that word.  I printed a study guide for each of my kids watching the videos so that they could take notes on the meanings of the words while they watched, and I printed a glossary for each of them with all 500 words, in alphabetical order, and their definitions.  There is another version of the glossary with the same 500 words, but they are arranged in groups of words with similar definitions.  I copied all of those for each of the kids to put in their binders.  After each episode of the skits, the kids can do a crossword puzzle, a quiz, and a worksheet to cement their learning.  We can also print out flashcards of the words.  You may choose the best study helps to help you.  There are then cumulative quizzes after watching several episodes.

We received the Small Educator Classroom subscription, so I was able to sign up each of my kids individually.  I am mainly doing this program for my 9th grader, but my 7th and 5th graders also enjoyed the videos and seeing how they can do on the puzzles and quizzes.  They are doing surprisingly well, actually!  Perhaps they will be that much ahead by the time they reach the SATs!  The kids generally watched the videos together, and I printed out the worksheets and puzzles for them. Later, they could each sign in on the laptop under their own account (with a password) to watch the videos again if they would like, pausing it sometimes to take more notes, and to take the quizzes.  The quizzes can also be printed.  When they take the quizzes online, I then receive notifications in my account telling me which kids have done what quizzes and what they scored.  I gave the kids an additional challenge to try to use words from the SAT list in general conversation around the house, and when I hear the words in conversation, I give them points, which will later be turned in for a prize. I am now being inundated with large vocabulary words being sagaciously used in regular sentences!

My kids really enjoyed these humorous videos, and I've got to tell you, their retention level of these words is amazing.  This beats our old method of flashcards and wordlists by a mile!  I have decided to continue the program throughout this school year and for all of us to try to learn all 500 words.  I believe this is one of the most effective test prep tools I have seen.

That said, I must also put a disclaimer in here.  Unfortunately, there were some words and subject matter in the videos that I did not care for.  Specifically, the Name of the Lord is taken in vain frequently. Truthfully, this bothers me more than hearing curse words.  Yes, of course the kids hear this everywhere, even from their friends on the phone, but I do not believe it has a place in educational materials.  There were a few curse words and references to drinking.  Again, nothing the kids won't see elsewhere, but I believe educational materials should be held to a high standard both educationally and morally.  My husband and I discussed this at length and decided that we would continue to use the program, even though we strongly objected to that facet of it, and that we would make "teaching moments" by explaining to the kids that even though we hear these things from friends, on TV, and even in our homeschool materials, we have chosen to live without that kind of language in our household.  Since I realize most of my readership is probably more on the conservative side of things, you will have to make that decision for your own family.  You can see clips of some of the videos at Vocab Videos.

If you are interested in this program, here's the pertinent info:

The Product:  Vocab Videos  subscription website
Brought to you by:  A-List Education
Ages:  High School (can be used with younger children who are good readers and who are ready for a vocabulary challenge)

Or for just one student:

There is also a workbook available for $11.99.

To see what other Crew members thought of Vocab Videos, click the banner below:


Disclaimer:  I received a free Small Educator Classroom subscription to Vocab Videos in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

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