Case Study written by Susan, an English teacher from Nevada:
What was the problem in your classroom or school that you were trying to solve when you implemented this product?
For years as an English Language Arts teacher, I have struggled with two main differentiation concerns. First, how do I support all my students in acquiring the academic vocabulary that they will need to be college and career ready? Second, how do I provide my students with a variety of independent reading texts that appeal to their individual reading levels and interests? How can I meet each of my students at his or her level of readiness and monitor and support growth as each student learns and retains new vocabulary at the appropriate pace? And is there any possible way to connect that vocabulary instruction to their independent reading? I tried everything, but I was never able to resolve the dual needs of differentiation and accountability. And I never felt confident that my students were authentically acquiring vocabulary and reading skills that would transfer over and stay with them as they moved into other classes and eventual careers. These seemed like unsolvable problems before I discovered Zinc Learning Labs.
Describe how you used the product.
With Zinc Learning Labs, I was able to assign vocabulary sets to entire classes, individuals, or groups of students. More importantly, they could choose their own vocabulary lists. Students could study lists of words for test prep, to prepare for a specific unit of study, or to acquire vocabulary while reading a novel or an individual article. Because of Zinc's spaced repetition, which forces students to relearn the words 6 times over a course of about 6 weeks, I felt confident that my students would retain the words they learned. With Zinc's library of diverse texts, I could find a variety of relevant and engaging readings with built in assessments, including both multiple choice questions and writing prompts. Whether I assigned a particular text, or allowed students to choose a text themselves, I could easily monitor and assess their progress. Students could choose texts based on length, reading level, genre, or subject. I could easily find texts related to any unit of study or subject area. Best of all, each article comes with a set of vocabulary games to help students learn the vocabulary they will need to understand the text. The entire program is gamefied, so students actually love learning vocabulary.
What worked and what didn't?
One aspect of Zinc I really like is that I can plug virtually any text into the program and create my own vocabulary list to go with the article. I also really appreciate the test prep word lists that they created for AP Language. Many times I'll bring up a new concept in class and when I ask my students about their prior knowledge, they will tell me they know the term from Zinc. The gamefication of the program works well because students can earn points for growth, so an ELL student who is working on foundational sets can be competitive with a student who is working on SAT prep words. One thing that I tried that did not work was when I tried to use a word list of computer science terms. Zinc is great for both general academic language and for ELA terms, but you can't create games for vocabulary specific to other content areas (such as computer science or biology) as far as I can tell. Yet. Zinc has a great "feedback/suggestions" section for both teachers and students to tell them what modifications they would like to see.
11th Grade Social Studies Teacher, Business of Sports School, New York
At my school, many of my students struggle with reading grade level texts even when provided scaffolds designed to help break down the meaning of texts.
I was drawn to Zinc because instead of leveled texts, it focuses on helping make texts more accessible through online vocabulary games and reading comprehension questions.
I would love my students to create their own book.
I would love to include books about the song artists that they listen to daily.
This product seems perfect. It is the best one I have viewed today.
I would have to come up with a way to avoid cheating.
I would give consequences...