ActiVocab is a product that grew from a love of, and frustration with, TPR (Total Physical Response). Many teachers have tried TPR and initially loved it but that passion quickly eroded due to a number of glaring deficiencies. With 75+ years of experience in language learning, classroom instruction, and technology development, our team has created an online application which overcomes these limitations as well as introduces new technology to assist the learning process.
Throughout the years the use of physical gestures to aid in language learning has had several serious drawbacks: 1) The realization that so many important commands can not be gestured in a meaningful way. 2) The nightmarish task, even just five or six weeks into the term, of managing and evenly reviewing all the commands to date. 3) The ever growing difficulty of remembering the gestures associated with each command. 4) Remembering which commands are causing the most difficulty and increasing the student's exposure to those commands. 5) Culling the classroom results to create meaningful and challenging exams.
Through a combination of creative teaching techniques and advanced computer software, ActiVocab elegantly solves all of these problems and then some. First, ActiVocab includes hundreds of well thought out and time tested gestures to capture abstract commands never possible with TPR. Some gestures are borrowed from well defined Sign Language commands. Most have been developed through years of hands on classroom interactions. Second, ActiVocab allows the instructor to seamlessly interact with a database to track and analyze the results of classroom review sessions. In this way the instructor is assured that no command is left behind and that commands not fully grasped by the students can never be overlooked. This approach also allows ActiVocab to create exams which are fine tuned to the strengths and weaknesses of each semester's students.
As though solving these problems weren't enough, ActiVocab offers a host of other benefits. 1) At the beginning of each semester the instructor can look through the history of the commands the incoming class has studied and set a study plan accordingly. 2) Students end the year retaining 120 to 150 words of Sign Language. What a fantastic added gift to take through life. 3) Armed with an association of commands in the target language to ActiVocab gestures, learning another foreign language is far simpler. 4) Students love ActiVocab and look forward to their next review session. How often is that the case in a foreign language class! 5) Educators can search through pre-built command lists created by other ActiVocab users.
Each instructor is responsible for a number of classes. Classes are centered around a target language.
Classes are comprised of a series of Sets defined by the instructor. Each week of the class new sets are created.
Sets contains the commands. Each set usually consist of seven commands and are meant to be introduced within one teaching period.
Review Lists are selections of commands to review with the class. Every command from the new set is guaranteed on the review list. The older sets are represented by the commands from those sets with the least reviews.
A day in the life of an ActiVocab instructor...
ActiVocab allows instructors to build vocab for any number of classes. When a class is created the target language is selected and a name given to the class. Once the class is created the instructor is then ready to begin entering 'sets'.More info Prior to the beginning of a Semester
Sets reside within a class and each class will have an ever growing number of sets as the semester unfolds. The very first few class sessions of the semester may require a few sets to get the semester rolling but after that it is usually one set per session. Once a set is created the instructor is now ready to enter in the commands.More info Monday
With a set selected commands are then entered. Sets generally consist of between five and seven commands. Commands consist of the target language word or phrase, an audio file if available, a gesture description, and a gesture image or video file if available. Each command begins with a count of zero as it has yet had any real world class reviews. Sets should contain no more than seven commands.More info Monday
Typically review lists have 50 slots to fill with 1/3 of the slots filled from the new set, 1/3 of the slots filled from sets going back two weeks, and the final 1/3 filled from the oldest sets. Commands from older sets are chosen based on the number of times the command has been reviewed in class. The fewer times a command has been reviewed the more likely it will appear on a review list. In this way commands can't get lost and forgotten as the weeks progress. As each command is reviewed the with the class the instructor checks off the command and a count is incremented and saved in a database.More info Monday
ActiVocab can automatically produce suggested examination sheets based on the number of times each command has been reviewed as well as feedback by the instructor as to the degree to which each command has taken hold in the minds of the students. And, the results of the eventual exam questions are fed back to ActiVocab to further modify the choice of commands for future review lists and exams.More info Friday
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