First off, most of my students were doing their practice ACT. The only ones to come to class were seniors, kids who got to school late and weren't allowed in the testing room, and "demotes" that don't have enough credits to be juniors. So, about six or seven kids per class.
On a day like today, many teachers would just let the students do whatever, but I decided to do some vocabulary building by using the freerice.com website. The site combines vocabulary with hunger relief. For every question you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated. Check it out for yourself. Basically, though, you get a set-up like this:
You click on the synonym/definition and move on to the next word.
I put the kids in small groups and we went around the room, seeing which team could get the most correct. It was low-key, laid-back, and fun. There was some good-natured joking when a team got a word wrong. Several times, I heard someone say, "I just learned a new word!" And it was a great chance to hear kids use some strategies to get the answers. They looked at the affixes. They considered roots. They tried changing the form, or saying words that sounded the same. They used process of elimination. One guy really made me proud when he said, "Well, backlash seems to be a negative word. So it can't be questionnaire or law."
Will they remember any of the words? Maybe not. But hopefully they'll remember a carefree day in class when everyone left smiling. Now if I could just get them to turn in some assignments.