A few months ago I wrote a short post about Wordie, a site "like Flickr, without the photos." It was shortly after I posted about some vocabulary pedagogy I had researched.
Today I substituted again in Poudre School District for a 4th grade class. The teacher pretty much let me decide what I was going to teach, which was pretty cool (at least, for me). She asked me what I enjoyed teaching, and when I said poetry, she felt that would be a good thing to touch on before CSAPs (the Colorado standardized test) coming up in March.
Anyway, long story short, I got to lesson plan significant pieces of the rest of the day using the 30 minutes I had while students were in P.E. And after keyboarding, we did some spelling/vocabulary practice using Wordie. You can see the spelling list and (by clicking on individual words) the semantic mapping students did using comments here.
Some students got it, and some didn't. And I think it would work better with some sort of self collection of unknown words during silent reading. And some more modeling on my part. I secretly hope the teacher will consider continuing it with additional lists, but that's asking too much. I really lucked out getting the chance to experiment, but I think it was constructive; the students were way more interested in their words once they took on a virtual landscape.
I'm going to look into this some more, see if I can put together some lesson plans, handouts, and maybe post a video tutorial. Stay tuned.