Like its name implies, VocabularySpellingCity (formerly just SpellingCity) is a Web site that aims to teach and reinforce vocabulary and spelling. The site was launched in 2008 explicitly for spelling practice, and added enough vocabulary activities that the site was renamed in 2010. (Writing practice activities have also been added in the last few years; no word yet on whether a name change to VocabularySpellingWritingCity is on the horizon.) The site automates the use of weekly word lists: teachers can enter their word lists and the site integrates them into its 26 different activities and games, which can then be used on interactive white boards, computers, or mobile devices. The games are fairly familiar – word searches, crosswords, scrambles and a version of Hangman called HangMouse– but the way the site automates and populates the process can be helpful to teachers and parents. (As one teacher blogger put it, the games are “fun, challenging, and provide a level of instant gratification that is not always available when studying.”) Many activities can be also be printed, and the Teacher Resources section includes standard printable worksheets.
The site has 1.2 million members, including nearly half a million teachers, and estimates that nearly a million students in close to 100,000 schools are using the site, as well as nearly 800,000 parents. Both the Web site and the app (for iOS, Android or Kindle, and with a smaller set of activities) are free for teachers and students. A premium annual membership – a few dollars per student for schools, $50 for a classroom, or $30 for a family – is required to assign different word lists to different students or groups, to track student activities and scores, or access certain activities. (About half of the site’s 40,000 premium members are teachers or schools and the other half are parents; active district customers include Roane County School District (TN), Orange Public Schools (NJ), Cherry Hill Public Schools (NJ), Berwyn South School District (IL), and Logansport Community School Corp. (IN).