Friday, February 22, 2013

Quizlet: A new way to practice using technology

Hello, everyone! My name is Viviana Nicolosi and I am a Spanish teacher at Danville Community High School. I would like to share with you how I am currently using Quizlet to help improve the way my students learn and practice vocabulary for our language class.
I must say that I had hit an impasse a few years ago in my language classes. We had a fair amount of vocabulary to learn, yet we were all tired of pairing up and making flashcards for homework. Then I discovered I was excited to see that I could provide the vocabulary to my students in a way that allowed them repeated, and randomized, practice yet it still contained some of the traditional features a student would seek out. Let me explain.

Once you have established your Quizlet account, you will see that there are 5 different games the students can play in addition to simply flipping flash cards. They are: Speller, Learn, Test, Scatter, and Space Race. The flash cards are on the home page for quick access and are available for easy printing, which I always recommend to my students. Quizlet is in the midst of enhancing their site, so I believe much more is to come in the near future.
Since I started years ago, Quizlet has only gotten better. For example, they now have a game called Speller that allows the students to see the word, actually hear it being said (with notable accuracy for a computerized voice), and requests that the student type it out. It will then correct their answer, keep score for them, and move them by levels. What I mean by the latter is that as the student finishes a set, Quizlet will show them how many words they have left to see, how many they have partially learned, and how many they have fully learned. It then prompts them to continue practicing, and will do this until they have gone over all of the words in the set. As a teacher, I love being able to see what words present the biggest challenges, and it helps the students keep me informed as we practice together. The student can even choose the speed at which the words are said! I like to have my advanced students remain on, “Speak Spanish (fast)” while my students who struggle with listening comprehension may use, “Speak Spanish (slow).” Finally, one of the features I love most is that if a student spells the word incorrectly, Speller will break the word down, spelling it out letter by letter, so they can rewrite it.
Next, they have Learn. Learn is very similar to Speller in that it will pronounce the words for them and allow them to switch from English-Spanish (and vice versa). What stands out is that the students are presented with the entire set of vocabulary words at once and can see their score (incorrect/correct/remaining) off to the left. It also gives them the option of selecting, “Override: I was right,” in case you have one definition sharing two vocabulary terms or they just make an unintentional mistake.
The next game offered by Quizlet is Test. This is a great way to give your students a practice test before the big day. It is a mix of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, true or false, and matching. The students control how many questions are on the test plus what types of questions are produced. Let’s say you are going to give them an essay test. You may want to request that they only choose the fill-in-the-blank format so they are sure to know how to write out all of your words. There are simply numerous possibilities.

I would venture to say that my students’ favorite game is Scatter. This is a timed matching game that keeps track of the highest scores achieved. The scoring, of course, makes the game that much more fun for them. They love to see who holds the top score, and they absolutely love trying to beat it. Although I enjoy their enthusiasm for this game, I will say that I tend to ask my students to practice the other sets first for two reasons. First, I like for them to really learn the vocabulary before playing the games. Secondly, I think it gives them incentive to learn the vocabulary more quickly so they can spend time trying to beat the record.

Lastly, we have Space Race. Personally, I very much enjoy this game. It is a combination of all the classic Quizlet features. The students will see vocabulary words pass by on the screen. They are given a box at the bottom of the screen with their goal being to try to type the word that they see traveling across the screen before it disappears. They may choose to have the word appear in the target language or in English. They may also choose to ignore punctuation, spaces, and/or details in parentheses. (This grants them more time to type what they see so they are not fumbling around trying to add accents.)
Before I leave you, I would like to add that, although we have been speaking about using Quizlet for vocabulary, it can be for so much more than that. I have created sets to review pronouns, conjugations, and even cultural details. Really, you could do anything that you can pair up! Quizlet also added a feature awhile back that allows us to attach Flickr images to our flash cards. If you upgrade to the ad-free account (Quizlet Plus for $15/yr.) you can also add your own images. This means that you may use the pictures from your recent trip to France in order to help your students learn the names of the monuments you have discussed in class. I think this is a great way to personalize your Quizlet sets. Finally, just as an added detail, if you do upgrade, you will be able to create unlimited classes. Why is this important? It gives you the tools to differentiate your students’ learning by allowing you to create individual classes for low, medium, and high learners instead of having one class that all of your students share.

Thank you for your time. I hope you have enjoyed reading about Quizlet. Now, go out there and set up your first class! You won’t regret it. I promise.

The Challenge:

Sign up for a free Quizlet account and try it out with your class. Share how you've used Quizlet, or how you're planning to use it, in the Comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Viviana,

    Your students might also like to try their Quizlet vocabulary with a game app I have developed:

    Oliver Rose