Enhance Academic Vocabulary with EdTech Tools

Intentionally scaffolding and building vocabulary with our students is so important for all of our learners. There are many, many strategies used in classrooms including word walls, flashcards, visuals, total physical response (TPR), and the list goes on. Below, I will outline various ways you can enhance academic vocabulary with various EdTech tools while also infusing the 4 C’s: collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking.

  1. Word Walls with Padlet
  2. Word Banks and Word Clouds with AnswerGarden
  3. Word Clouds with WordArt
  4. Total Physical Response with Flipgrid
  5. Digital Flashcards, matching, spelling, games, and more with Quizlet
  6. Individual and Collaborative Digital Flashcards with Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint
  7. Frayer Model with Google Slides
  8. Matching and Fill-in-the-Blank with Nearpod
  9. Visuals with Emojis
  10. Unpack words with Vocabulary.com

1. Word Walls with Padlet

Word walls are wonderful visual tools to help anchor students to new academic vocabulary. A great strategy is using a true physical wall, whiteboard, or piece of chart paper in your classroom to house a word wall. If you’re tight on space or don’t teach in a physical classroom, Padlet can be a great alternative. Padlet is a free digital bulletin board tool. It has various layouts including grid view (shown below), shelves, maps, timeline, canvas, backchannel, and more. You can use Padlet to inspire student-voice and allow students to post text, images, videos, links, etc. You can also create a “view-only” Padlet where students are viewing the Padlet. This is what is shown below:

Word Wall with a view-only Padlet

2. Word Banks and Clouds with AnswerGarden

Providing students with word banks gives them the support they need to complete various assignments using academic vocabulary. AnswerGarden is a free word cloud generator that can help support students. You can use it before, during, or after a lesson. An important note is AnswerGarden does not require a login, so if you are concerned about privacy and digital citizenship, you can change the settings to “moderate” and you can approve the words before they pop up. The more a word is submitted, the larger your garden grows! 🌻 🌷🌹 To see how I’ve used AnswerGarden for social contracts with students to build relational capacity, view #12 under “Collaborative Social Contract.”


  • We are going to start learning about __________. What do you already know about __________ Use adjectives, nouns, and verbs
  • When you think of __________ what words come to mind? (optional: provide a word bank and allow students to choose these words or their own)


  • Looking at these words (give word bank), which are the top three you feel best describes ___________?
  • What are some characterisitics of ___________? (character, species, shapes, equations, event, etc.)


  • List some big “a-ha!” moments from your learning.
  • Looking at these options (give word bank), what was your favorite part about __________?

3. Word Clouds with Word Art

AnswerGarden (above) is a collaborative word cloud generator. Word Art is also a word cloud generator that allows users to change the shapes of the cloud as well as the font, text formatting, colors, and sizes of words, among other features. One way I’ve used Word Art in the classroom is by allowing students to upload their “Bio Poem” into the word cloud generator. These go on Google Slides and then are printed on a bulletin board in the class to build relational capacity. Social Contracts with Word Art. We also created the back of our AVID shirts with this tool. Students brainstormed words they thought of when they heard “AVID” and we created a word cloud in the shape of a grad cap.

Word Art made from words in Bio Poem

4. Total Physical Response with Flipgrid

I’m going to start with these questions: Can you name the 27 Amendments of the United States Constitution? How about the bones in the body or the countries in the world? A wonderful memory strategy among many is to provide movement to new words and/or concepts. Scaffolding this for students and modeling either yourself or through a video that is already created is wonderful. Then, ask students to repeat the movements back and/or even think of their own. They can record this on video to submit to you using Flipgrid. Flipgrid is a free video and audio recording tool that allows users to post public and privately moderated videos, screencasts, and/or audio submissions. If students are camera shy, Flipgrid allows you to moderate the videos so they are private only to you. Another idea is to have students create songs, rhymes, and raps and record these with the audio feature on Flipgrid.

5. Digital Flashcards, matching, spelling, games, and more with Quizlet

Quizlet is a free learning tool for students providing pre-made flashcards users can duplicate or customize as well as blank sets users can create. Once a set is created, users can use features such as “learn,” “write,” “spell,” “test,” “match,” and even a game called “gravity.” The flashcards have features such as text-to-voice and visuals. They can be linked and embedded on web pages. There are various versions that allow users to pay for upgraded features including assigning study sets to students, tracking progress, and custom paths for students.

6. Individual and Collaborative Digital Flashcards with Google Slides and “Slides Randomizer” Add-On

Google Slides is much more than just a presentation tool. Each slide can serve as a flashcard. Teachers can create a collaborative class slide deck. Using the animation feature, the definition, fact, or image can appear.

7. Collaborative Frayer Model with Google Slides and Google Jamboard

The Frayer Model is a graphic organizer that helps scaffold vocabulary acquisition. You can use many tools and templates for this. Here are two using Google Slides and Google Jamboard. Students can have their own Slides or Jamboard, or they can do this collaboratively in pairs, as a group, or whole class. Consider using the jigsaw method to give students ownership of words and put the agency in their hands to teach the larger group. For more on the jigsaw strategy, review this post: Jigsaw οΈπŸ§©οΈ β€“ A Collaborative Learning Structure Modified for Hybrid/Blended Learning

8. Matching and Fill-in-the-Blank with Nearpod

Nearpod is a wonderful, free tool that has both a “fill-in-the-blank” and “matching” feature. For the fill-in-the-blank, you can provide a sentence on the template and then select words you would like students to drag to fill-in-the-blanks. For the matching activity, you can type corresponding words and definitions and it will turn it into a matching activity where students click the words and definitions they think match. Like other tools, there is a free version and other paid versions.

9. Visuals with Emojis

I πŸ’— emojis, don’t you? They can be used as visuals πŸ‘€ in so many ways. Many of us use them in our writing already when we text and even email and make comments on social media posts. Emojis can be used in the classroom in a variety of ways including:

  • vocabulary visuals πŸ‘€
  • a story in emojis πŸ“–
  • numbers 1️⃣ 2️⃣ 3️⃣
  • group roles πŸ”Š ✍ 🎨
  • celebrations 🀘🎢🎸Rock 🌟 Star see a list of celebrations on Tip #15 Celebrations
  • SEL check-ins 😊 😒 😴
  • ice breakers (ex: Describe your summer in five emojis)
  • …and more!

Vocabulary connection: For every vocabulary term, ask students to use at least one or more than one emojis to represent the vocabulary term. Consider asking students to identify vocabulary in reading by using something like a comment feature in Google or Microsoft tools or Kami to add the vocabulary definition, part of speech, word in a sentence, and/or emoji. To see my favorite Emoji Chrome Extension, view #2 Emoji Keyboard

10. Unpack Words with Vocabulary.com

Vocabulary.com has an abundance of resources including pre-made vocabulary lists, games, quizzes, and activities. Simply type in the title of a story, chapter, or concept you are reading or learning about into the search and it is likely a list is already made.

Example of some of the features in Vocabulary.com

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