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Writing in tech-enhanced multiliterate classrooms 


Unit 1

Help your students improve their vocabulary skills

through the use of corpus-based and gamified tools for vocabulary acquisition


Compleat Lexical Tutor: A data-driven approach to vocabulary development


Compleat Lexical Tutor, developed by Tom Cobb at UQAM in Canada,  is reknowned as a site

where an amazing plethora of vocabulary analysis and visualization tools can be found: https://www.lextutor.ca/


All you need is some text: Appointment in Samarra


Let's start with some text and see what we can learn about the vocabulary here


Appointment in Samarra by Somerset Maughamhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Somerset_Maugham


Students can read the materials above, then watch this video,

and retell the story in their own words (there are no words in the video)




It's a short story:


There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture,  now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.  The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?  That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.


To see how this might be taught in a blended learning environment, here is

an example from one of Vance's recent classes.

There are some comprehension questions on the back of the "handout" at the bottom of the page.



Using the Compleat Lexical Tutor to analyze the vocabulary


What can we do with this text? There are many tools available, much to explore

We will check out a couple of examples.


Vocabulary Profilers




From Home > VocabProfilers > Compleat 




Click submit and you can see the words in the text analysed and divided into the General Service List's 1 and 2 thousand (k) levels, academic words, and the remainder or 'offlist.' 



Cloze generator




From Home > Cloze Builders > VP Cloze Builder (Eng/Classic) 




The screen above produces this





The dictator tools let's you provide text and sets up a dictation exercise for your students to do online.

You find it here: Home > F-on(W)Fs



And then find it here on that menu


Home > Spelling > Dictator




This generator speaks the words in the following interface and the students type what they hear and check it it's correct or not.


Let's end this session with a game!


Memrise: A gamified vocabulary development tool


As we have seen, the Compleat Web VP tool above highlighted the following words as being of varying difficulties for our students


Using Lexical Tutor to help you find words your students might need to learn


Vocabulary Profiler identified these words in the text Appointment in Samarra


K-2 difficulty - crowd, lend, and threaten

K-3 difficulty - gesture

K-4 difficulty - merchant

K-8 difficulty - jostle   

(total of 6 words from the General Services lists)


Let's find 6 more 'difficult' words to make it an even dozen; e.g.

servant, provisions, avoid, gallop, astonishment, spur


And we'll create a sample Memorize lesson from these 12 words 


Pros and cons of Memrise


Memrise is one of my favorites for vocabulary development in particular contexts


There are many things it does well

  • It has a leader board, which puts students in competition. In some contexts this motivates students
  • It works from associated paired items so it is quick and easy to set up
  • It's a game, it's fun, students clamor to play it - they might learn from the repetition
  • It is possible to quickly accumulate lots of points, and this encourages students to continue
  • It is social and some students like that 
  • It has a compelling class management interface and tracking mechanisms which I will try to show participants 


And some things to be aware of

  • It has a leader board. In some contexts this might embarass some students
  • It works from associated paired items so it is limited in that it triggers rote memorization; does not extrapolate to broad concepts 
  • It is social, which can create privacy issues, but students can base a profile on an email address 
  • Students clamor to play it - they might be exhibiting addictive behaviors and avoiding deeper level work
  • Students might be motivated only to build up lots of points


But the idea in gamification is to

  • draw them into desired behaviors (learning)
  • by motivating them with irresistible but irrelevant bells and whistles.


And students do tend to stay on task with Memrise. What they learn remains a valid question.


Let's play and see


For this unit I have developed a Memrise game 


In order to participate

  • Please create an account on Memrise if you don't have one already, https://www.memrise.com/
  • It makes you choose a language, go ahead and set it up,
  • Create a profile called SWUIC_YourName (if you miss this step we can easily fix it)
  • When it starts trying to teach you another language, STOP and go to the URL here ... 


There is an app, either use that or

In a browser, start at:



Note: You and your students can use the app to play Memrise activities

You must use the desktop version to create a lesson


We play the game and it goes from there


The presenter will show how he can track students in class as they are playing the game or afterwards in case they do it out of class.


Time to be creative




You can work individually or in pairs or in groups to do one or both of these suggested activities


Experiment: Create your own Memrise game (optional)


  • Try your hand at creating a Memrise activity
  • Get it's URL and share it with us
    • in a Tweet tagged with the workshop #tag of the day
    • or in a reflection that we'll use in Unit 2 of this workshop 


Reflect: Create or update a Google Doc to have on hand for Unit 2 of this workshop


For the next activity after the break, you need to create or have on hand one or more of the following

  • A Google Doc shared with vancestev @gmail.com (remove the space before @)
  • Alternatively (if you can't use Google Docs)
    • An Etherpad document
    • A PBworks portal workspace
    • A blog or wiki post dedicated to the content of this workshop
    • Any other online resource that you have created on the topic of this workshop


TAG anything you create (pictures or links to any of the above) with the tag of the day #jan29swuic


Click here for more information



In your document or posting you can give your impressions of this workshop.

You can be brief,

but in the next unit we will see how teachers can use voice to give feedback to students on their shared writing.


Submit your creation


When you have

  • Created a Google Doc shared
    • for VIEWING with everyone AND 
    • for EDITING with vancestev @gmail.com 
  • and / or tweeted the url of something you have created today


You can take a short break


In the next part of this workshop we'll work with any Google Docs you've shared with vancestev@gmail.com as we Utilize the voice capabilities of modern mobile, tablet, and PC devices for improving effectiveness and efficiency in giving well-directed feedback on writing

You can have a look at what's coming up beforehand if you like :-)




These materials were created by Vance Stevens for delivery at ELSpecialist workshops in various venues in Thailand in January, 2020

The are free to share-alike and with attribution under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

The date of this update is January 29, 2020






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