Microsoft Word, or for that matter any word processing program, always astounds me with it’s versatility for the creation of a number of projects. From brochures and pamphlets to websites and tables, Word can do an astonishing amount of work for a word processor. Just this year I’ve had my students use it to create graphic organizers, stories (the obvious use), and tables for collecting data. Recently my students started making flash cards for their Social Studies vocabulary, and the thought struck me for them to use Word, and the Internet, to enhance their understanding of the terminology, especially since the first Social Studies test displayed a general lack of knowledge about the vocabulary.
By creating a simple table (go to the Table menu and then click “Insert>Table”) with two columns and as many rows as necessary the students first typed each of the vocabulary words into the left hand column. After discussing the words and using our glossary they typed definitions for each term in the same cell as the term. Now comes the Internet; using education-friendly image search engines like pics4learning and the sites provided by Kidsclick the students will scour the net for images that they feel visually represent the concept of the term (works great for more abstract Social Studies vocabulary and concrete Geography terminology). When they find the perfect image, or images, that represent the word they can then cut and paste (or save and insert) the image into the right hand column directly adjacent to the vocabulary term. They have a visual clue as well as a textual understanding. In this manner they can use actual images of important places, people in history, or objects connected to significant events (sailing ships for “age of discovery”, satellites for “global village”, etc.). No more second guessing whether that crudely drawn stick figure is really Martin Luther King Jr. or Amelia Earhardt.
I’ll have to let you know how well it works when we’re all done. We’re currently taking state standardized tests so we’ve had to put some studies on hold until the end of the week.