Students Can Learn Vocabulary as They Read Online

In my first post, I told you about me. Today, I want to introduce you to my startup, ProfessorWord. Our goal is to help students learn vocabulary as they read online.

Why vocabulary, you ask? I’ll admit it’s not exactly the sexiest topic in edtech. But vocabulary is really important!  In fact, research shows that vocabulary is one of the single most reliable predictors of a student’s future academic and career success.

PW-2-Words.jpgUnfortunately, our students are struggling. On the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)  Reading Assessment, the average vocabulary score for 4th grade students was just 218 out of 500; 8th grade was 265; 12th grade was 296. That’s not good. For details, see here and here.

The problem is that students are reading less. And when students read less, they simply don’t learn as many words. I saw this first-hand as a teacher and tutor.

But reading is the key. Research shows that reading “widely and deeply from a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts” (a direct quote from Common Core) is critical, because it’s really the only way to learn the estimated 65,000+ words needed to read and write well as an adult.

ProfessorWord wants to help students read more, learn words as they read, and study smarter.

PW-2-Screenshot3.pngAvailable now:

We offer a free tool that works on any website to highlight vocabulary words and to offer one-click definitions. It works on all the major browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, IE) and on the iPad and iPhone.  Did I mention it’s free? Try it now at

In development:

We’ll curate fun, interesting, and relevant online articles from top-quality sites (i.e., CNN, The Atlantic) to generate personalized reading programs for students that can be customized based on their interests (i.e., movies, sports), reading level, and vocabulary needs. We are also developing student and teacher accounts so students can save new words to create personalized wordlists and study materials and teachers can monitor and track student progress—i.e., articles read, words viewed.

As you can see, we’re very much in the product development phase. If you have any comments or suggestions for us, please let me know! Our goal is to launch a beta version of these features this upcoming school year, so you’ll be hearing more about how this development is going in future posts.

Now that you know a little more about me and about ProfessorWord, what are you interested in learning more about? Comment below or let me know @professorword!

Until next time,

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Have questions or feedback? Comment below or let me know on Twitter @professorword!

Photo Credit: Flickr user nomadic_lass

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