For some reason during my education and over my early years as an educator, I picked up a stigma about rote memorization. I looked down on teachers who were spending so much time drilling easily Googleable information into the minds of their students. In my mind, I viewed the top half of Bloom’s Taxonomy as the only thing worth my time. It wasn’t until a few years ago that my paradigm about memorization (particularly vocabulary) started to morph into my current philosophy.
I was getting frustrated that my students could not carry a technical conversation with me. If I was giving them feedback about how they built the digestive system on their maniken using anatomical terms, they would need me to completely restate the feedback while pointing or using general language.
I was faced with the Kobayashi Maru scenario of either lowering my expectations of students or “wasting my time” teaching vocabulary. Finding neither of these situations acceptable, I started investigating how technology could help me solve this problem.
I needed a system that was highly automated, capable of holding students individually accountable, and dynamic enough to prevent spamming/automation from the kids. I wanted a system that was well designed, reliable, and required low maintenance from me.
If you face a similar situation, don’t worry! I found a tool that was pretty close and I added some systems to my class to make the solution I wanted all along!
These days my students have a very thorough education in anatomical vocabulary, so I can speak (almost) as nerdily as I want and my student’s don’t miss a beat. However, this education is almost completely automated by Quizlet.
If you also teach a subject where vocabulary is a regular requirement for success, then you need to be using Quizlet too. Quizlet is a great tool that students might be using already (anyone can make an account and create flashcards) but you as a teacher should formalize this. I promise it is worth it!
- Create a Quizlet account for yourself.
- Upgrade your account to Quizlet Teacher.
- Create a class for your students.
- Create your own sets or add someone else’s set to your class.
- Have students create accounts.
- Add students to your class.
- I like the “Class Join Link” option myself.
- Use the Class Progress feature to track student progress and collect individual and class-wide data.
The above steps will get you to a very cool place in your classroom. Students are accountable for the content and Quizlet never gets bored instead it forces students to keep trying until they get it right. The new Learn feature is particularly cool from a cognitive science standpoint.
Quizlet In My Class
After a few years of using Quizlet in my class I have come up with a system for integrating Quizlet and vocab into my students’ classroom experience that I really like.
I have a Quizlet vocab set for every Mini-Quest in my class. So there is a set (like this one) that students will work with for 1-3 weeks depending on the Mini-Quest.
Students get a grade for their activity in each of the 7 study modes. I give them 50 points for every green check and 25 points for every dark grey icon. Light grey icons mean no activity, so they are a zero.
All student work is due on the last day of the Mini-Quest and I show students their progress at the start of every class period. Students are given the control to decide when they want to work on it and the due date is firm.
Every Wednesday, which due to our rotating schedule is once every 5 classes, we use a killer feature of Quizlet called Quizlet Live. Quizlet Live is my hands down favorite in-class competition technology (way better than Kahoot).
During Quizlet Live, we use the current vocab set unless we are at the end or right before a major Boss Battle (Unit Test). In those cases, I will combine several sets together and we will play Quizlet Live with a major review set.
Google Sheets Sneak Attack
One of the problems I had with the way I use Quizlet was grading student participation. Quizlet gives me the data (hooray), but I needed to translate that data from Quizlet usernames to gradebook names, and from icons to numbers. This required me to do a lot of mental math and scrolling up and down on two different screens while helping students. I was making a lot of mistakes.
I looked to technology to save me again and figured out how to make a Quizlet Grade Calculator with Google Sheets! I made a video showing you how to do the same thing for yourself:
I am so glad that I found Quizlet and gave it a chance. My classroom runs smoother and my students are better because of it.
I am also glad that I didn’t settle for Quizlet’s final data output and decided to create a better solution for myself via Google Sheets.