Thursday, August 16, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Vocab Videos


My Junior will begin taking the standardized tests for college admission this year and we have included prep work for it in her daily school schedule.  She's added a writing course to her schedule, extra math work, and even a vocabulary review.  If the SAT or ACT test is looming for a student at your house, there is an online program that can help them improve their scores on the verbal portion.  Vocab Videos is designed to help students help themselves by bringing vocabulary words to "life" through short videos and retention tests.

The videos make learning new vocabulary words easier for students through visual and verbal lessons.  As you watch each of the 25 episodes (about 10 minutes per episode) in the vocabulary miniseries, vocabulary words appear on the screen and the video action stops while a narrator reads the word, its definition and explains how it fits into the scene.  Students hear the word, see the word and understand the contextual usage of the word in the series of over-the-top videos.  After completing an episode, your child has the option of completing worksheets, doing crossword puzzles, and using digital flashcards to study the vocabulary words presented before they take a quiz to test their recall.  Each episode contains 20 words to learn and then tests you on those 20 words.

Vocab Videos call their videos hilarious with outrageous characters -- but my Junior defines them as "lame."  They are silly and strange -- but purposefully designed that way.  They are presented in an "outrageous" or "lame" manner so that students can really remember what they've seen.  Definitely for the older crowd (9th - 12th graders), the videos do make it easier to remember the over 500 essential vocabulary words included.  A good activity for quiet time alone, I assigned the videos to my daughter for a time when she could be all by herself.  {I am not comfortable with my younger children watching them at this time due to some of the situations portrayed.}

Some of the videos are written as parodies of popular television shows such as Lost, The Office, 24 and Gossip Girl.   These aren't shows that we watch but that didn't affect my daughter's understanding of the videos she has watched thus far.  We haven't decided if she will continue watching the videos and testing how much she's learned throughout the school year -- the jury is still out on that.  If we do continue, I think it would definitely help her confidence level when she sits for the ACT later in the year.

Now, there is one thing I must forewarn you about:  This is not a "Christian company" and I knew that going into this review but the repeated disrespectful use of GOD's name was a good bit surprising.   I realize that it has become quite common to use GOD's name in everyday conversation, but it makes me shudder every time I hear it.  Although the videos were helpful, I'm glad that I pre-screened before sharing with my daughter.  We were able to discuss this before she started watching.  (You can sign up for a one-month FREE trial to evaluate how Vocab Videos will work for your family and watch sample videos for yourself.)

I've been reviewing the Small Educator Account which gives me access for up to 20 students for one year for the cost of $74.99.  Under this account, each student has their own username and password and I have the ability to monitor all of the time spent online and the grades received.  The Small Educator Account allows you to manage your students and view all of their answers on worksheets and quizzes -- quite a helpful feature when student accountability is needed.


This has not been my favorite review item of the year and it doesn't fit into my plan of making learning fun this year.  The premise is a great one; unfortunately, the influences of the world make it difficult.


~Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to try Vocab Videos as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  I received a Small Educator Classroom Subscription in exchange for my honest review. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of  Vocab Videos  HERE.~

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