Math = Love: Password Review to Practice Vocabulary

Monday, January 25, 2016

Password Review to Practice Vocabulary

So, I've been in the processing of trying to clean out my drafts folder in blogger.  Most of these drafts are just titles that were meant to remind me what I should get around to blogging about.  Sadly, I don't remember what a lot of these titles are even referring to, so they've been deleted.  It's crazy how much stuff you forget about your day-to-day experiences of teaching if you don't write it down.

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder since last school year.  I do remember what it was supposed to refer to because I was smart enough to take pictures for the post!  :)  This isn't a new or novel idea, but that could be said for most of the stuff I post here.  It's actually based off games/tv shows like Password or Million Dollar Pyramid.

Last year, I gave my students a list of vocab words that they needed to know for their semester tests.

Here's an example from my Algebra 2 class:

Since I knew many of my students would not practice these vocab words on their own, I decided to devote part of our review time in class to vocab practice.  I typed up the vocab words they needed to know in a quick table.

Algebra 1 Words:

Algebra 2 Words:

These were cut apart and paper-clipped together to make decks of cards.

I put students in groups of 4.  Each group formed 2 teams of 2 that were competing against each other.  The cards were shuffled.  One student picked up the pile and tried to get his/her partner to say as many of the words as possible within one minute.

Rules:  You can't say what the word starts with.  You can't say what the word rhymes with.  You can't say how many letters are in the word.  Believe me.  Teenagers will try ALL of these things!

Tally up how many points the first team got.  Switch teams.  Repeat.

The first time I tried this, I had both teams going at the same time.  I found that my students wanted to listen to the other team for practice.

We played a few rounds of this, and it was awesome to hear their vocabulary improve as the game continued.  Students would overhear other groups describing things and use that to alter their descriptions later in the game.  Some came up with hand motions to represent the different vocab words.  I allowed this, but you might choose not to.

The best thing about this activity was it got students talking and describing.  I was able to just walk around and eavesdrop.  I learned a lot about what my students did and didn't understand.

So, this isn't new or novel, but I thought I'd share anyway since someone might be able to use it.  :)


  1. An interesting take on this game is to have the guesser wear the deck of cards on their forehead with a headband (like the Ellen Degeneres game)! Course then you'd have to buy head bands.

  2. thank you so much for sharing. i got inspired from you and i have the same idea,, share it

  3. I love playing this with my classes - especially as many of my students speak English as their second (or third) language. I also sometimes have forbidden words too, for example, the word is factor but you can't say divide or parentheses.

  4. As a perspective teacher going into the math field for secondary education an idea like this to learn important vocabulary words never crossed my mind. I can't wait to try to implement this in a class to see how it works.

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