Contextualized Vocabulary Interpretation and Games

When looking at how to use games in the classroom, considering the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements is always beneficial, as well as thinking about how they might be executed in a classroom using a game as a source text. For example, one of the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statement main indicators is “I can recognize words, phrases, and characters when I associate them with things I already know” (Interpretive Reading, Novice Mid). This learning target can be easily achieved through use of a game with highly contextualized vocabulary, such as Parable of the Polygons, a web-browser game that explores issues such as cultural and racial segregation. With one such game, learners are empowered to interpret target vocabulary based on the context.


Below is an example activity that inspires vocabulary interpretation using Parable of the Polygons. Even though the text used in the game is at a higher proficiency level than the learners who would use a Novice Mid indicator, they will be impressed with seeing how much they can accomplish by using the contextual clues within the site as well as the words that they already know.

Parable of the Polygons Activity

Related Can-Do Statement

I can recognize words, phrases, and characters when I associate them with things I already know.

Pre-Activity Self-Reflection

How well do you think that you can engage in the Can-Do Statement for this activity?

 This is a goal  Can do with help  Can do  Can do well


You will read and play Parable of the Polygons (, a half-blog, half-game regarding likeness and sameness. As you play, use context to define the words below. If you need to, feel free to work with a partner.

Tip: It is better to move the polygons manually in each screen than to simply allow for the computer automation (when it exists) to arrange the shapes. Playing the game this way will allow for more time to reflect on small changes and how they impact the overall composition of society.

 Word  Definition  Example from the text

– Stephanie Knight

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