We in the English Department at BHS are proud to unveil the new online vocabulary textbook that will be used in all freshmen classes starting this year. The website is
and we have added a tab to the top menu on this page that links directly to the page.
We are currently in the process of finishing up the final units, and we are in talks with three different companies who are going to help us transform this website into a functional, internet-free eBook. We hope to have an eBook option available by the end of September, although we will keep this site live for at least this first year, as we learn which format is more beneficial to the students. And next year, this vocabulary text will expand to encompass the sophomore year as well.
To assist the students with learning these new units, we have also created flashcard sets and have posted them to Quizlet. Instructions on how to use the website or (even better) how to download the chapters onto an iPad or smartphone can be found in our Resources tab on the top of this page.
So why the change?
First, and most importantly, Word Wealth, the vocabulary textbook that we have primarily used for grades 9 and 10 for the past few decades had fallen out of print, and has fallen hopelessly behind the times. Our copies are in lamentable shape. The last update to that textbook was 35 years ago, and finding high-quality replacement copies is becoming nearly impossible. The Sadlier-Oxford textbooks that we ordered were an annual purchase, sometimes costing over 25% of our budget.
In creating a replacement text, we created units of study for the freshmen year that introduce the students to common prefixes, roots and suffixes in English, and then reinforce them with words that employ those word parts. Throughout the units, we reinforce the concept that if you can identify these common word parts, you will be able to decipher words that are unfamiliar more easily. The sophomore units are purely vocabulary study, with twenty-word units filled with words that appear frequently on “Top SAT Words to Know” lists.
- Customizability – we are able to control completely how we explain what these unfamiliar words mean, and we will be able to update the book annually should a word become too common or obscure, or should a better context arise that will help the students remember the words. Also, once the sophomore page launches next year, we will have custom-selected all of the vocabulary words that we teach over the four years of study at BHS. Students will no longer encounter the same words in consecutive years, because they are using books printed by different publishers.
- Ease of use – We no longer have to rely on a 300-page textbook filled with information that felt irrelevant or needless to most teachers and students. Some classes hardly used the text at all – they relied on context-driven worksheets and the Quizlet flashcards exclusively, and found the text-free instruction to be equally useful. The nine units per semester fits our schedule better than Word Wealth (10 units per semester) or Sadlier Oxford (7-8 units per semester) – we can have a unit take 2 weeks to complete, and that pace is ideal in an 18-week semester.
- It is relatable – Word Wealth is filled with references to the Soviet Union and Laurel and Hardy. Our textbook contains references to relatable points like Honey Boo Boo Child and Mr. Sheehan. (Not really. At least not Honey Boo Boo Child. But we could add her if we felt it were helpful.)
- Cost – The significant amount of money our department had been spending on expendable textbooks can now be used for something more permanently productive and helpful for our teachers.
As this book is going through its preliminary year, we are sure we will find ways to improve it. If students have any suggested edits, we will surely consider them.
Finally, this book would not have been possible without the efforts of the entire English department, especially the following teachers who worked on assembling the units: Ms. Bularzik, Ms. Coppola, Ms. Graham, Mrs. Janovitz, Mr. Lally, Ms. Roberts, and Ms. Stuart.
We hope you enjoy our new and unique vocabulary textbook.