Tech Tuesday: Make a Vocabulary “Story” - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Tech Tuesday: Make a Vocabulary “Story”

by Sean Sweeney March 28, 2022 2 min read

Three superheroes image
Hello! You are here because stories are fun and engaging, right?

Well, they also are strategic for teaching and learning. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) states that story forms can aid in memory and recall across the curriculum: “Listeners encounter both familiar and new language patterns through story. They learn new words or new contexts for already familiar words.” It just makes sense!

Words imageThe context, engagement and emotional activation of a story can assist in any vocabulary related to that story. In this post, I’ll be detailing a number of tech- and non-tech resources for using vocabulary “stories.”

  1. Bringing Words to Life book coverCheck out Beck, McKeowan, and Kucan’s Bringing Words to Life. This seminal vocabulary-teaching text discusses the concept of Tier 2 vocabulary words (robust words which link to concepts kids understand, such as the word final), and teaching them through context, kid-friendly definitions and word play. A summary is available here.
  2. Worlds Worst Pet logoPick a vocabulary context. Picture books can be great to discover Tier 2 vocabulary, or use a resource such as or the WWP-Vocabulary app, both of which are free and have great topical wordlists.
  3. Check out Jamboard! It is a great play and visual “space” attached to any Google account. A lot of “how tos” are described in this previous post on the MindWing Blog.
  4. Pick an engaging context, in addition your wordlist. My student loves talking about both travel matters and Pokemon. For this reason, I have been selecting and targeting words from the Travel and Leisure Topic (sample below) on You can easily develop “friendly definitions” for these words using concepts your students will understand, e.g. affordable- not expensive and you have enough money to pay for it.

Go to “town” with Jamboard and your students and co-create some “stories!” MindWing’s Digital Icons are easily copied and pasted into a Jamboard to model and scaffold stories around examples and nonexamples of vocabulary words.

Jamboard example image

In the above Jamboard example, several vocabulary words are turned into a story. The image of the motivational Pokemon Finneon was taken from this great wiki. SGM® icons were pasted in, and text boxes and inserted images do the rest! Click Background, the +, then Google Image Search to search for any setting for your story. The left sidebar has you insert images, and searching for PNG images (e.g. “fish castle PNG” will allow you to find sticker-like images that fit into your collage well.

Sean Sweeney
Sean Sweeney

Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and as a clinical supervisor at Boston University. He consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (, looks at technology “through a language lens.” Contact him at

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