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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Editor's Note: SAT Word Slam is no longer available.

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.

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.

Overall Rating

Engagement

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

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

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