Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2012
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SAT Word Slam

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Creative SAT prep mixes humor with well-researched word lists

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Teachers say (3 Reviews)
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Grades
9-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Extensive word lists and option to customize lists from word bank.

Cons: Definitions and synonyms are untraditional, which may not translate to test format for some students.

Bottom Line: Laughing while learning proves effective for learning words in this witty vocab app.

SAT Word Slam is a great tool for personal vocabulary building, especially as SAT prep. There's an option for a push notification of a word of the day, so teachers with students in a 1-to-1 environment could have them focus on that word each day. Teachers can create custom playlists from the word bank, but students would need to re-create the list on their own devices because there's no teacher dashboard to send the list to every device. Better than a whole-class list, however, are individualized lists of challenging words, which SAT Word Slam allows each student to create easily.

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SAT Word Slam is a vocabulary learning and testing app based on the book by Jodi Fodor. In fact, the 400 words in the app utilize many of the same definitions, poems, and mnemonics as the book. Each word is accompanied by a poem, mnemonic device, definition, and audio recording. The writing is very stylized and often sarcastic, making frequent references to pop culture.

From the navigation bar, students can choose from Teach Me, Test Me, Playlist, Index, and Test Results. The index includes an alphabetical list of words with parts of speech, pronunciations, definitions, and mnemonic devices. Students can mark words as easy, medium, or difficult. The playlist lets users create a custom set of words from the full list. The Teach Me section includes the poems and mnemonics. In both the Teach Me and Test Me sections, students can review or test all words, those they've marked as difficult, or their custom playlist. When students answer a quiz question incorrectly, they can review the Teach Me section for that word before returning to the test.

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Teacher Jodi Fodor started writing witty poems for her students to help them remember their SAT-prep vocabulary words. The strategy proved so effective that she wrote a book showcasing the unique definitions, and the book morphed into this app. In the Teach Me section, the definitions and mnemonics may require some critical thinking ("You malinger so you don't have to lift a finger"), but they really do help students make sense of the words -- and transfer them into actual usage. Students can turn off the professional audio if they want to, but the actors do such a good job with tone and attitude that it lends another level of understanding to the words. In the Test Me section, the quizzes don't mirror the SAT format, which would be helpful for SAT prep, but they do reinforce learning the words, which is even better than straight-out test prep.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Humor and pop-culture references along with professional voice-overs keep kids engaged. Variety in quiz types -- synonym, fill-in-the-blank, and complete the poem -- keep it fun.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Rhymes and mnemonic devices provide depth of understanding that will transfer into writing and speaking. Students are empowered to create playlists for specific word study and to rank words easy or difficult to create lists for further review.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Clear illustrations show how to use each screen when kids first encounter it. Quiz scores are stored so students can see if they're improving.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Lisa K. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Babson College
Wellesley, MA
4
Using humor to learn is a great thing!

Compared to free SAT vocabulary Apps, Word Slam is worth the $3.99. It is easy to use, entertaining, and has good functionality. The humor is geared for high school students and helps students have a laugh or two while they are learning.

The downside with this app is the length of the poems. Although the rhyming poems are catchy, for some words the poems are too long. Also, although 400 words are provided as part of the app, there is an additional cost to add new words (200 words for $1.99).

Bottom Line: This is a good individual app that makes learning new words fun. It can be used to study for the SAT or anytime to improve vocabulary.

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