Finding just the right word for an essay can be a head-scratcher for many students. And proper word placement can sometimes be a brain twister. But when carefully chosen words fit into the right places in sentences and paragraphs to convey the author’s precise meaning, the mental gymnastics are well worth the effort.
But good writing doesn’t come without effort and practice.
For teachers, a good resource for helping students build and flex vocabulary and word placement is an app called “Word Matrix” developed by ReadWriteThink in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English.
Aimed at students in middle school and high school, the app works with most smartphones and digital tablets. Self-paced exercises help students boost their vocabulary while they practice proper word selection, placement and use in writing. Concepts include:
- Literacy analysis
- Word choice
- Word connotation
- Word register
- Writing instruction
The app is a good fit for students who are visual learners and respond well to charts and multimedia in lessons.
The first launch of the app prompts users to create a new account using just a first name. No other information is needed, and there’s no fee. Next, tap the “New Project” button on the screen and follow the prompts to name the project and choose one of three “Word Matrix” templates: “Words by Register,” Words by Connotation” and “Words by Connotation and Register.”
The templates are inspired by matrix visual charts often used in mathematics where numbers and symbols are arranged in rows and columns based on values, formulas and other factors. The “Word Matrix” app words appear in a horizontal or a vertical line called an axis.
How it works
Choosing a template automatically generates eight words. Teachers also can add their own words to the list.
Students use a finger to drag the words and position them on the horizontal axis with words that have more negative connotations to the left and those with more positive connotations to the right. On the vertical axis, words from the same list are organized based on their levels of relative register, from formal at the top to informal at the bottom.
Finally, students have an option to explain their word placement by tapping on the word to open a comment box, where they can provide a brief statement.
The matrices auto-save as they’re edited. Completed ones can be saved into the photo gallery area of the device, where they can be shared with others via email or social media programs, including Facebook and Twitter.
Content in the “Word Matrix” app is all-inclusive. It includes templates that can be configured three ways with automatically generated word lists. Teachers can add their own custom words. Once the app has been downloaded into a device, words and templates can be generated without an internet connection and completed matrices can be saved to the device. There are no in-app advertisements, and creating an account is free.
However, there are numerous preconfigured lesson plans that can be used with the app on the ReadWriteThink website. The lessons target students in ninth through 12th grades and are free, but an internet connection is needed to get them. Visit the RWT lesson plans page
The “Word Matrix” app from ReadWriteThink and the National Council of Teachers of English is free. It can be downloaded from iTunes and is compatible with iPhones and iPad tablets running iOS version 6.0 or later. It’s also available on Google Play and is compatible with smartphones and digital tablets running the Android operating system 2.2 or later.