Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2012
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Vocabador

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Kids wrestle challenging words in fun, fighting-themed SAT-prep game

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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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 multiple rounds of play against multiple opponents keep kids challenged.

Cons: Fighting theme might put off teachers and some students.

Bottom Line: Tournament-style play motivates kids to stick with vocab practice.

Use Vocabador as a daily vocabulary practice to prepare students for the SAT/ACT. The Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) theme with sound effects and multiple wrestler challengers is likely to appeal to reluctant vocab learners. Since those same themes may turn off some students, however, Vocabador is best used as one choice offered to kids for vocabulary practice. Consider giving students a choice of apps like Vocabador, SAT Word Slam, and SAT Vocab - MindSnacks for one round (or 10 minutes) of vocab building a day.

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Mexican wrestling, known as Lucha Libra, is the inspiration for Vocabador. Students start with Vocab Training, where they choose a weight class (lightweight, middleweight, or heavyweight) and review flashcards of vocabulary words with the word on one side and a definition, example sentence, synonyms, antonyms, part of speech, and audio pronunciation on the other. In Vocab Challenge, students choose their weight class and opponent and then "get in the ring." They can also review the words they'll be quizzed on through the "sneak peak" option. In the ring, each round is 90 seconds, and only four punches (or incorrect answers) are allowed. Once students defeat all three opponents in every weight class, they can battle the Vocabador to win the championship. Students choose a name for their wrestler and pick a mask, adding to the fun of the theme.

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The 400-plus word list is filled with excellent SAT prep words in three categories of challenge: lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight. Don't assume that lightweight words aren't challenging; even those little guys pack a punch with words like pretentious, raucous, and urbane. Heavyweight words include alacrity, antediluvian, and vitriolic. The word list is first-rate, and the flashcard definitions are easy to understand. The synonyms and antonyms included for each word transfer well for kids preparing for the SAT, and the depth of understanding students get from the usage-example sentences will help them integrate the words into their own vocabulary. Students can flag words that need more review. With four wrestling opponents in three weight classes quizzing students on 36 words each, Vocabador can challenge and engage students for multiple rounds of play. The wrestling theme isn't baked into the lessons but just serves as a way to gamify vocabulary practice. It's sure to draw in some kids, but teachers may not be as comfortable with the violence involved.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Vocabador, despite some violence, is a fun vocabulary tool that uses a nontraditional theme to reach kids who might otherwise avoid studying vocabulary.

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

The app focuses on memorization using flashcards, self-assessment, and repetition. Kids work quickly against a timer, and the level of words and the question format transfer well to prepare kids for those tests.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Extensive instructions are provided. The Mexican wrestling theme and partial use of Spanish extends the cross-cultural appeal.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Cameron M. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
3
Engaging vocabulary app to learn and test your knowledge of vocabulary you might see on the SAT, GRE or elsewhere

This tool is good at what it was designed for---teaching vocabulary. The two modes--Training mode and Challenge mode---allow students to learn the words and definitions first and then test their knowledge in game mode. Also, there are 3 modes for the challenge based on a wrestling theme-Lightweight, Middleweight, and Heavyweight. The sound effects are loud so using headphones is probably a must. Sounds can be turned off in the settings. There is also an option to download pronunciation files to your device if you want that option. I believe students would benefit from vocabulary exposure and will enjoy the challenge of trying to beat the opponents by quickly choosing the correct definitions. Some improvements might be if they could play other classmates or students instead of just the built in opponents. Overall, it is an effective and engaging app to help students prepare for the vocabulary they will see on college entrance tests.

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