On June 26, we walked through Vocabulary Power Plus Online, our new digital vocabulary program available this fall.

Prestwick House writer and educator Josh Corman was back to discuss how Vocabulary Power Plus Online can help you strengthen your high school students’ vocabulary skills while saving you valuable classroom time.

Topics include:

  • An introduction to Vocabulary Power Plus Online
  • A sample lesson walk-through
  • An overview of program pricing

Webinar Transcript

Welcome, everyone! Thanks again for joining us to learn about Vocabulary Power Plus Online, or “VPPO.” Just shortening that title is going to cut the webinar time in half, which is great for all you educators for whom time is most definitely of the essence!

Just a reminder before we get started to use the chat window to send in any questions you have as they occur to you, and we’ll get those answered for you. For now, feel free to let us know where you are as you listen in today. Today, we’ll cover each of the items listed here on the screen:

  • The effectiveness and benefits of digital vocabulary instruction
  • An introduction of VPPO and a brief walk-through of the program
  • We’ll introduce pricing for this new program.
  • Last, we’ll tackle a few frequently asked questions we’ve already received from some existing customers and also give you all a chance to ask any questions you might have. With that, let’s begin!

My name is Josh Corman and I’m a Writer and Education Specialist here at Prestwick House. I taught high school English for seven and a half years and have been here helping develop, among other things, VPPO. I’m joined by Darlene Gilmore, a Project Editor at Prestwick House. Darlene knows our Vocabulary Power Plus books and VPPO as well as anyone, and she’ll be behind the scenes, answering your questions in the chat window. Let’s start with vocabulary and the question of how we teach it.

Direct vocabulary instruction takes an active and structured approach that’s suited to the kinds of reliably paced growth we like to see from students. Anyone of us who has thrown a gigantic list of words at students and watched their eyes glaze over can appreciate the value of focusing student attention on narrower goals, allowing them to see themselves having success, and learning in manageable increments.

This type of instruction improves reading comprehension because it ensures repeated exposure to new vocabulary and allows students to encounter words in varied contexts so they more fully grasp the meaning of each new word. Selecting words that are particularly valuable to students at each grade level is critical, and direct instruction affords us the opportunity to tailor the new vocabulary to students. Similarly, direct instruction provides control over the method and timing of instruction through well-developed lessons and activities designed specifically to help students acquire and retain those new words. Direct instruction is central to VPPO’s makeup, but its other defining characteristic, as the “O” in VPPO makes clear, is that the instruction is delivered online, in a digital environment.

Digital platforms offer two benefits that are hard to come by using traditional instruction. One, they’re adaptable. Students can work at different paces, or an entire class can move through the program together, and work can be accessed, completed, and turned in anywhere with an internet connection. Students are digital natives. They already incorporate their digital lives almost seamlessly into their real lives, and that includes their experiences in the classroom. A digital platform meets students where they are. Digital platforms also save teachers time and mental bandwidth by all but eliminating the typical distribute–collect–grade–redistribute–review cycle that once felt like a contractual obligation for English teachers. Teachers can take advantage of that saved time, putting it to one of the hundred uses they might have for an extra hour here and there.

Now, this combination of direct instruction and a digital platform is what has us so excited to share VPPO with English teachers across the country.

  • Adapted from the bestselling Vocabulary Power Plus series, which has sold 1.5 million copies to date,
  • Vocabulary Power Plus Online is a new offering available for the 2019–2020 school year.
  • Like Vocabulary Power Plus for College and Career Readiness, its online cousin is designed for students in grades 9–12.
  • VPPO is a browser-based program, so no software download is required, and the program is accessible anywhere with an internet connection.
  • VPPO also features dedicated experiences for both students and teachers, to give you the control you need to make the program work for you and your students.

Now, let’s talk about VPPO’s structure—how the program is built and why that matters.

VPPO emphasizes short, frequent vocabulary activities that thoroughly reinforce students’ acquisition of new words in a way that feels manageable instead of overwhelming. That process gives students a chance to see and use words repeatedly, and then prompts them to use those words in meaningful, context-specific ways. VPPO’s lesson structure is built to offer those opportunities in abundance.

  • There is one course for each grade from nine through twelve.
  • Each course comprises twenty-one lessons.
  • Each lesson consists of three five-word segments, fifteen words total per lesson. That’s more than 300 words per course, to save you the math.
  • Students encounter the words that make these five-word segments in four stages: learn, practice, show, and apply.
  • Each lesson then concludes with a summative assessment.

Now let’s take a closer look at exactly what that will look like in practice for students using Vocabulary Power Plus Online.

The first stage is LEARN, which introduces students to the new words. In this section students will see each word broken down phonetically and hear it pronounced both in its entirety and syllable by syllable. They’ll also see and hear the part of speech and definition for each word. And they’ll get some context, seeing and hearing each word used in a sentence. I’m a big fan of the audio element here because we’ve all had that experience of recognizing words in print but not having a clear idea of how to pronounce them, so for the sake of fluency, hearing the words aloud can help with that. It’s a more dynamic experience than they might have with a traditional word list.

PRACTICE deepens student understanding of new words through exercises that encourage exploration and, vitally, provide students with feedback early in the learning process. We want to give students a chance to see and test how these words work without the intimidation that can come from dropping them immediately into a strict, scored, right-and-wrong assessment. In this section, students will have multiple opportunities to match newly-learned words to their definitions, identify synonyms and antonyms, and get immediate feedback as they work to guide their learning.

SHOW lets students demonstrate their developing understanding of new words through exercises that emphasize context. In this section, students will read sentences (that don’t include the vocabulary word) and select the vocabulary word that it relates most closely to using the understanding of the word established in the PRACTICE section. They’ll also construct new sentences by selecting the word or phrase that best completes a sentence stem that already includes the vocab word. This is where some of the Vocabulary Power Plus book content has been adapted and even added to because we identified a couple of spots where we felt like we could really use these context-heavy exercises to lead students into some higher order thinking and push the rigor up a notch.

APPLY asks students to analyze a word’s fit at both the sentence and paragraph levels. In this final section, students will place vocabulary words accurately to complete a cloze paragraph as well as choosing from a selection of sentences which ones use the vocabulary words correctly. After each lesson, students will take a summative assessment. Those assessments will be free-standing quizzes we’re developing to capture students’ learning across these four sections. Direct instruction, repeated use of new words, and a wide array of context-centric practice opportunities. VPPO uses these core principles so that students develop and retain—we all know the retention part is key—a multifaceted understanding of the words they learn.

Students are going to see and use these words at least six different times, each time being asked to really think about how the words work in context.

We want students to do well from a performance perspective on whatever vocabulary-dependent assessments they face, but we also want them to know and actually use the words going forward, and we feel VPPO is built to get them there. Now, let’s talk about one of the most important details: pricing. Our goal in everything we do is to help you inspire students to strengthen their vocabulary skills and become better readers and writers. The best way we can do that is to make this new digital program as affordable as possible.

VPPO is priced in three tiers based on how many students will be enrolled in the program. Base pricing begins at $12.99 per student per year for up to 250 students. If there are between 251 and 1,000 students enrolled, that price drops to $9.99 per student per year. And if there are more than 1,000 students enrolled, the price drops again to $8.99 per student per year.

We’ll begin scheduling online demonstrations soon. If you’d like to be among the first to see VPPO in action, be sure to sign up at this link. We’ll also be linking to this page at the end of the webinar.

Thanks so much for your time and attention today. Let me say here before we get to a few frequently asked questions and any additional questions you may have: I have worked and will keep working on VPPO, but it’s the product of a whole team of people who know the pieces and parts often better than I do, so if you happen to ask a question that I can’t provide a satisfactory answer to, we will absolutely get it in front of the person here and follow up with you as soon as we can.

Let’s kick off the Q&A with a few questions that some folks have thrown our way as they’ve learned that Vocabulary Power Plus Online is in the pipeline.

Q: Does VPPO come with the books?
A: Vocabulary Power Plus Online was built as an independent program with the focused vocabulary exercises of the book series adapted for online use. The books are separate and contain the additional test prep, reading, and writing sections. They will be made available in specially priced packages with the online program.

Q: How do you use the books in conjunction with the online program?
A: The books are not required to use the online program, but they do contain additional test prep, reading, and writing sections, and can be used as a supplement if needed or wanted.

Q: Which VPP series is this modeled after?
A: Vocabulary Power Plus Online has the same word list and is adapted from the latest version of the print program, Vocabulary Power Plus for College and Career Readiness.

Q: How are the questions scored?
A: All materials in the program will be computer-graded, so there’s no need for teachers to manually grade student assignments. Obviously, how you manage the value and weight of student scores on those activities is entirely up to you.

Q: Is this individualized to each student’s level so they progress as they go through the exercises and assessments?
A: The online program follows the same path as the workbook series with the words from each level selected for typical students at that grade level.

Thank you so much for joining us today. We will send along a recording of this webinar so that you can pass that along to anyone at your school who couldn’t be with us today. As we mentioned, we’ll be scheduling online demonstrations of VPPO soon. Be sure to sign up if you’d like to be among the first to see this program in action. Thanks again, and have a great rest of your day!