This is a guest blog post by Josh Kurzweil, a teacher who uses Quizlet Live with his class.
I have been using Quizlet with my adult ESL classes for many years and have often been puzzled by how to motivate students to develop better study habits to learn more effectively. While some students immediately take to Quizlet’s individual study features and see big improvements in their learning, others seem to be less motivated to study with it.
My dilemma has been how to integrate different kinds of review exercises into the classroom to help my students successfully learn material and become more motivated to study with Quizlet at home. Recently, Quizlet released a new feature called Quizlet Live, which has been instrumental in integrating quick bursts of vocabulary study into my classes. By combining studying with a social game, students have started to see individual study as a way to prepare for the game and increase their participation in class. In addition, the interactive experience of studying encourages them that with small amounts of practice, they can be successful with their learning and not see it as a daunting task.
Understand your classroom dynamics
I generally assign students between 30 and 75 vocabulary words a week and they get a quiz every Monday on about 10-12 of those words. For example, my advanced reading/writing class recently did a unit on ‘Social Media’ and studied a set that I created for them with terms such as blog, inhibited, anonymous, etc.
For some students, this routine of having a weekly quiz along with opportunities to use the vocabulary in speaking and writing activities is enough to boost their study time at home using Quizlet. However there are students who do poorly on the quiz and become resigned to that reality because they cram material right before the quiz.
Using the game to enliven your lessons
Since Quizlet Live is a high-energy game that usually lasts for 10-15 minutes, I try to insert 2-3 games a week. For example, I might introduce a vocabulary set on Monday by having students discuss the topic and identify words from the list that they are not familiar with. As homework, I assign them to study the Quizlet set on their own and also tell them that we will be playing Quizlet Live the next day to add motivation. Using the ‘Class Progress’ feature on Quizlet’s teacher account, I can see if they have completed their homework.
Quizlet Live is also a great way to increase the classroom energy level and sometimes I’ll save it for the end of the class as a way of finishing on a high note, as well as reminding them to study more that night. I’ve also learned that the key to student enjoyment is to do these exercises at a steady cadence so students aren’t left bored and are always engaged.
How the game works
To play Quizlet Live, each student needs to have a smart phone, tablet, or laptop. It is also helpful to have a projector in the class so you can display your screen. Here are the steps for setting up the game.
The teacher goes onto Quizlet and selects a set to play the game. Check your settings to make sure your account is set to "teacher" instead of "student."
The teacher clicks on “Live.” Below is what the dashboard looks like when I’m looking at my vocabulary set on ‘Social Media.’
- You will then see a screen that looks like this.
- If you are playing for the first time, you may want to play the demo for your students to demonstrate how it works. Before you play with your class, it is worth reading through the “Learn More” page to ensure that your set will work and you are familiar with how to set up the game. If you don’t have a projector, you can also explain the game by drawing a sample game (see picture below) on the board.
Here is a sample of what I say to my students while pointing to the picture above:
You play this game in teams. In this example, a student (You), Alec, and Karoun are playing on a team and have to click the right answer. You can only click on the answers under “You.” Sometimes your team member has the card and you don’t, so be careful not click a wrong answer. If you click a wrong answer, your team loses all its points and must start over. Don’t worry if you lose your points, you’ll be able to get them back quickly! The first team to match all 12 cards is the winner.
- Click on “Create Game” and the following screen will appear.
At this point, if you have a projector, it is helpful to show this screen so that students can join the game. They simply go to quizlet.live and enter the code and their names. They do not need to have a Quizlet account to play. As they join the game, their names will appear on the right side.
Once six students have joined, the “Create Game” button will turn blue.
- After you click on “Create Game,” your screen will show the teams.
- When I play with my students, I like to have them stand or sit together. This is a fun moment, especially in large classes, because sometimes students don’t know each other’s names so there is a social component here. Although the game does not require students to be seated next to each other, I find there is more cooperation and peer teaching if they do. My students typically play from their personal phones, thus the one rule I give my students is:
‘You can only touch the answer on your individual screen. You can tell your teammate if you think they have the correct answer, but only they can touch their phone.’
This rule is important so that there is more discussion and so that the stronger student doesn’t take over the game. If the students are sitting apart from each other, this issue doesn’t come up but you do need to decide if you will allow students to call out to each other or not.
- Click “Start Game” and watch progress for each team in real-time. If you have a projector, students can also see how they are doing in comparison to other teams, which also creates a sense of excitement.
- After the game is over, the screen will show vocabulary that students frequently missed and the ones they got right. This provides feedback on terms to review in the next class.
- When my students are up for additional rounds, I can simply repeat the procedure and play again. There is the option to mix up teams, which can give students a chance to meet more people and have a nice social break.
How Quizlet Live has helped my students
Here are some of the ways that using Quizlet Live can benefit students.
It provides spaced repetition practice. Recent books such as Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning examine research on how to make learning more effective. Spaced repetition is a core concept that encourages students to spread out their studying and do shorter more frequent bursts of studying (rather than massed practice). By playing the game regularly, students get spaced repetition practice and they can see how it helps them.
It creates opportunities for peer teaching. If you play the game with the students in groups, you see peer teaching as students discuss their answers. The social aspect of peer teaching can help students remember and internalize the terms. The ones who are teaching develop confidence and internalize the words more deeply, while the students who are learning feel more comfortable learning from another student in a small group.
It balances competition and cooperation. Rather than having individuals compete against one another, students work cooperatively in teams. With individual competitions, it is far more likely for students who aren’t as good to drop and give up. By having the students cooperate in teams, students feel included and engaged. Learn more about cooperative learning.
Social Proof. Students who struggle with studying can see students who have do it well, which can serve as a motivator because they realize learning is achievable.
Provides motivation to study. To do well in the game, students need to study. Since students are playing in teams, there is social motivation to be prepared to not let their team down.
Taps into the game culture. The Quizlet Live feature is very much a game and students spend an amazing amount of time playing and mastering games that are quite challenging. Through gamification, motivation can be added to the learning experience.
Get started with Quizlet Live
Learn more about Quizlet Live and try it out today!
Josh Kurzweil teaches ESL in the Bay Area and helps people develop their teaching. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his company website www.BerkeleyLTC.com