Educator Matt Hartung from Tulelake, California recently wrote to us about hosting a "Dinner and a Quizlet" event before a big Academic Decathlon, which his team won! We decided to ask him a few questions about how he’s using Quizlet to engage his students. Read on to learn more!
Members of the Tulelake Academic Decathlon team — back left to right: Otto Boettger, Tristan Walker, Abby Scanlan, Eric Hartung; front left to right: Glenn Alvarez, Edgar Tabarez, Olivia Boettger, Cambria Weaver.
Quizlet: How did you first learn about Quizlet?
Matt: I began using Quizlet following my daughter Kaitlin introducing it to us in 2014 as she was preparing for competitive academic events during her sophomore year. I became a big Quizlet fan as my daughter went through high school, winning four California State Championships in Vegetable Crops, Agronomy, Pest Control and Identification, and Web Design and becoming the highest-scoring Academic Decathlon student for 3 years. Her Agronomy Team went to the National Future Farmers of America Conference and placed third — history-making for California in that event. Kaitlin credits Quizlet as a huge part of her success and she continues using it as a college student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Q: How do you use Quizlet in your classroom?
M: During my regular classes, I use Quizlet Live for test review and practice the night before an exam. I frequently include Quizlet as a Google Classroom assignment where the "exit test" is to beat my time in Match. The students do enjoy beating my time and battling their peers to see their name up on the 72-inch classroom screen.
Additionally, I find Quizlet a valuable discussion resource for video screencasting, which is extremely useful when I have a sub. The substitute teacher needs only to lead the class to YouTube or to Google Classroom and the students can view my video lesson for the day. Quizlet can be implemented quickly for this purpose… and with the Class Progress feature of my Quizlet Teacher upgrade, I can view the students' progress during my absence!
A screenshot from one of Matt's screencasts.
Q: What is the Future Farmers of America program like at your school? How do the teachers and students involved with Future Farmers of America use Quizlet?
M: Our school has an active Future Farmers of America (FFA) program that recruits students with a variety of career interests to engage in leadership activities and competitive agricultural science events. Our little school does quite well. Upon showing Quizlet to our FFA advisor, he immediately saw the potential and began creating Quizlet sets for daily practice. Our school has branched out to include Quizlet sets in many classes.
I also coach an FFA Farm Records team where, among many other elements, the students knowledgeable of IRS Publication 225 tax code and, again, Quizlet allows me to categorize, organize, and provide a theme to our practice sessions. It just makes teaching and learning more productive, fun, and efficient.
Q: What is an Academic Decathlon?
M: A high school Academic Decathlon team consists of nine members forming three teams of three students: the Honors Team (GPA 4.0-3.8), the Scholastic Team (GPA 3.79-3.0), and the Varsity Team (GPA < 3.0.) The great thing about AcaDeca is that it can involve students at any achievement level. This year our high-scoring student has a GPA of about 2.5, revealing that many lower-achieving students are quite bright but uninspired in some traditional classrooms. Quizlet has been a huge help with engaging these students. They find it a positive alternative to, say, filling out worksheets.
We compete with Modoc County, which is a rural area of northeastern California with just three high schools. Winners at the county level move on to state competition in Sacramento. We begin preparing for the event during late August. There is a lot of material to cover related to the ten events: Math, Science, Literature, Social Studies, Art, Music, Speech, Interview, Essay, and Economics. Quizlet is a fantastic way to organize and plan practice sessions.
Additionally, students must read an assigned novel related to the current year's theme. This year, that theme was Africa. I spent several hours creating Quizlet sets as study guides to increase our knowledge of characters and plot points related to the novel Things Fall Apart. It really helped them prepare for the Super Quiz portion of the competition, where students work with their respective teams in front of a live audience to answer questions like on a game show, but very formal.
Students playing Quizlet Live during a "Dinner and a Quizlet" event.
Q: How have previous Academic Decathlon teams prepared for the competition? How do you use Quizlet to help your students prepare?
M: The previous teams relied on traditional methods of preparation including teacher-centered direct instruction, group jigsaw lessons, and team presentations of material. Each year we spend a few thousand dollars to acquire the study materials and hope that students will read them.
My plan this year involved using Quizlet to condense the voluminous quantity of resources into several small Quizlet sets convenient for personal study and especially for engaging Quizlet Live during our study sessions. About fifteen cards per set worked well.
I also hosted an event in my classroom called Dinner and a Quizlet on the eve of our Academic Decathlon County competition. The students had a great time with Quizlet Live as we reviewed challenging elements of the next day's event. In my 23 years of teaching high school, Quizlet Live is by far the most engaging and productive resource I have applied. The next day… we won the event!