Puzzled by Vocabulary?

by Lisa Peel
Education Chair, Terry Campus
Delaware Technical Community College
Tags: Active and Collaborative Learning

This activity requires some work up front as the instructor and some caution when searching Google for images, but students benefit more than I ever expected.  In fact, this strategy evoked quality discussion from some of my most reluctant students.

Here’s how it works: The instructor creates a table with an image representing each word on the target vocabulary list. Of course, the size of the table varies depending on how many vocabulary words are being taught. The image may be somewhat ambiguous, or it could be seemingly straightforward.

It works best once students have been introduced to the words and have a list handy. Once the “puzzle” has been created, black & white copies are distributed to each student while the color image is projected in the room. Students are given a set amount of time and told to assign one vocabulary word to each image. I offer the students some prompts to start their discussion such as, “I think this photo represents ____ because ______.” Or “I disagree because__________.” Students spend time debating and advocating for their answers which is when the real learning takes place.

To conclude, I ask the groups to share the most and least controversial answers.  I have yet to complete this activity without students offering a new perspective and pushing me to think beyond the original word I had associated with the image.

Can you solve this picture puzzler? Feel free to discuss…
Vocabulary List: Rue, Bilk, Obfuscate, Abstemious

Extension: Have the students create a picture puzzler to challenge the instructor and classmates.

2 thoughts on “Puzzled by Vocabulary?

  1. I also have the students make their own picture puzzles and trade with a classmate; seeing how they visualize a word (and hearing how they explain their choice of images) gives me a lot of insight into whether or not they understand it. It also works really well as a cell phone game. I put the students in groups with one smart phone per group. I write a word from their vocab list on the board, and the teams race to find an image that represents the word. The first team to explain how the image and word go together gets the point. I require a different student to explain for each turn; this means the stronger students have to make sure their teammates understand the words.

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  2. Pingback: Game On! 2016 Instructional Innovation Spotlight | Forward Thinking

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