Sunday, May 27, 2012

The VocabSlam Manifesto: Core Principles

We started an education company because studying sucks. As our slogan indicates, we’re pretty sure that studying does not, in fact, have to suck.

VocabSlam was founded on two core principles: 1) that we learn best when we learn from each other and 2) that we learn best when affect is tied to cognition; that is, when our emotions, feelings, and creativity are tied to a task at hand.

So we’ve created a platform for people to interact, pulling together familiar elements of and We provide you with the SAT and GRE’s most frequently used words, their certified definition, and let YOU have fun with the words.

But it’s hard to be spontaneously creative. Think of assignments in creative writing class or in art class. It’s really hard when the teacher instructs you to “write anything”  or “paint whatever” but it becomes much clearer when he or she provides you with a prompt, or literally, a frame.  That’s why we give you the word and its definition as a stimulus, and you try to “Slam” other users’ sentences to get the praise of your friends, family, pets, and paramours.

For the education nerds out there, lots of research supports the idea that we learn best from each other, particularly our peers. But if you don’t want to read graduate level scholarly articles, check out "Disrupting Class" a great book that says that the best way to learn is from each other.

So have fun! Make up crazy sentences. Post a video to our YouTube page! The more you do with words, the better.

Urbandictionary: Our Heroes

Yes, the company that helped you learn the meaning of a Donkey Punch and a Dirty Sanchez, is our paradigm. Our template. Our exemplar. Our archetype. (This could go on for a while, we’re an SAT vocab company, remember?) Anyway, we’ve had a long, often salacious love affair with Urbandictionary not only because it’s made us seem smart at dinner parties (well, those basement parties at college with those red plastic cups with abspetos falling into them), but because it believes in people. Power to the people much? Sure.  Urbandictionary, we’ve found, is elegant in its democratic parsimony: it provides a framework for interaction where you make up a word and definition, and the world votes it up or down, and viola, may the best Definition Whore win!

So, we were psyched to see this profile of Mr. Aaron Peckham, Urbandictionary’s founder. A million visitors a day? Keep up the good work, brother Aaron.

The VocabSlam Manifesto: Learning by Doing

We’re pretty sure that old John Dewey was on to something when he professed (and practiced) “Learning by Doing”. We were impressed by Gary Stager who spoke passionately at TEDxNY about the value of giving young people discrete projects on which to work. (It gets pretty breathtaking towards the end). All concepts at the core of VocabSlam.

Back at Dewey’s stomping ground, Teachers College faculty developed instruction where you can teach an entire curriculum around food.

Speaking of stomping around, researchers at Arizona State University in Tempe and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that students can understand and infer more by physically acting out text—either in real life or virtually—than by reading alone. They like to move it, move it, move it move it, move it move it, MOVE IT!

Have you seen other good examples of Learning by Doing?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How to Post a VocabSlam Video Reply

In addition to written sentence examples, VocabSlam welcomes video submissions!  Here's how to do it.

For ANY video on, click the YouTube button, which brings you to the video on YouTube. Once you are there, click "Sign In" below the video (if you are already not signed in). When you are signed in, click the comment box below the video that says "Respond to this video..." Next, click "Create a video response". Then,
  • Choose a video you may already have in the video list box, or to create a new video, click Upload a Video, then Start, then Record from webcam.
  • You may see a box that says "Adobe Flash Player Settings" If so, click the "Allow" button.
  • Start recording, click "Upload" when finished.
  • Fill out label information:
          Title:            VocabSlam (insert the word)
          Description:  Vocabslam (insert the word)
          Tags:            Vocabslam, (insert the word), SAT, GRE
          Category:      Education
  • Click "View on Video Page" to preview. If you're satisfied, return to VocabSlam and click "Upload Video Reply!" for that same word.
  • You will see the title of your video in the video list box. Click the title and then "Use the selected video" button.
Remember to use the word correctly and to only use one vocabulary word per video. Your video will be reviewed by VocabSlam moderators, who will contact you via email within 24 hours. Good luck VocabSlammers!

Note: For more help visit YouTube Help or email us at

If you would like to be featured on our official YouTube channel, send your raw video file to If the file size is too large, contact Dan for further options.