So here’s an interesting confession: I am NOT a huge fan of teaching vocabulary. I get that it is important — particularly in a content specific field like science where understanding individual terms is essential for fluent communication. I just don’t like doing it.
Which is one of the reasons that I’ve tinkered with Quizlet over the years. Quizlet has always made it easy to give kids multiple opportunities to practice their vocabulary. Teachers create word sets by entering terms and adding — or selecting — definitions. Quizlet does the rest, creating four or five different kinds of activities for student users that range from working with digital flashcards to playing a speed based matching game called Scatter.
Need an example of what this all looks like in action?
Check out this word set that my students are currently practicing with and tinker with the tools available to learners:
Quizlet upped its game recently by releasing a new activity called Quizlet Live that is pretty darn amazing.
Quizlet Live makes it possible for students to participate in a competitive vocabulary review game against their classmates from any device.
What makes Quizlet Live unique is that students compete on randomly assigned teams of three or four students. Even better: The correct answer for each question asked during the game appears on only ONE group member’s screen. The result: When a question is asked, teams need to first figure out what the correct answer is and then figure out which partner has the correct answer on their screen.
Here’s a short video introducing Quizlet Live:
We played it for the first time in class on Thursday and I’m sold.
Not only did my students enjoy practicing with their vocabulary words — something that middle schoolers rarely look forward to — but they enjoyed practicing with their classmates. They worked with students they normally wouldn’t choose to work with, recognized that there were other experts in the room who could help them learn, came to rely on one another because they had no other choice, and celebrated victories together.
In many ways, Quizlet Live is a perfect blend of two other tools that I’ve experimented with over the years: Kahoot and Socrative.
Like Kahoot — which I review here — my kids LOVED the competitive element of Quizlet Live. They loved racing against other teams, trying to be the first to answer every question and to get bragging rights over their peers.
And like Socrative — which I review here — Quizlet Live encourages students to find the RIGHT answers to questions instead of rewarding random guessing by forcing teams that get wrong answers to start the entire game over AND to spend five seconds reviewing both the missed definition and the definition of the incorrect answer given. My kids figured out quickly that there’s some truth to the notion that you have to go slow to go fast. Thinking through answers together and being right — even if it took a little longer — was often the difference between finishing first and finishing last.
Are there limitations to Quizlet Live?
Sure. Probably the biggest limitation is that it is REALLY difficult to play the game productively if you don’t have a ton of devices in your classroom. Even when students share devices with one partner, teams of three or four quickly swell to teams of six to eight. That’s unproductive simply because it leads to some students doing a ton of work and some students sitting quietly, hitchhiking instead of participating. I’m also not convinced that Quizlet Live can handle questions that move beyond simple recall and review of core facts or vocabulary words.
But my kids were JAZZED the entire time we were playing and BUMMED when our class period ended. For a lesson designed to review essential vocabulary, that’s a pretty darn good outcome.
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