This is a contributed post by Michael Snead, a teacher and learning specialist in Texas.
Meeting the needs of all students and making sure they have what they need to be successful is a challenge for even the most seasoned educator. As a learning specialist at Barton Middle School, I've spent many units coming up with various activities to enhance learning for our students and prepare them for assessments — but nothing seemed to work, and especially not for my highest needs students. Once I found Quizlet, however, that all changed.
Using Quizlet, my students with the highest needs started to have success. At the start of the year, these students had 20s and 30s on their assessments with major accommodations; by the end of the year, they were making 70s and 80s by themselves. Students that qualify for a resource class are now getting the top grades on tests in a regular class and even leading class discussion. After using Quizlet for over a year, our results were beyond our expectations and Quizlet proved beneficial not only for students with higher needs, but for all students' scores and motivation.
How we use Quizlet (and you can too)
Once I realized Quizlet could really make a difference for my students, I started incorporating the activities and games more consistently into my lessons. Now Quizlet is a part of our instruction and school culture. As a department, we backward plan to create the unit. Once we have this plan, we create a study set on Quizlet. Our students have access to this set at the beginning of the unit so they can start to learn the material at home or in class. We even created QR codes linked to these study sets and posted them in our classrooms to make it easier for students to access. Now that the basic information is in the study set, the academic vocabulary and discussion in class has increased. We are able to dive deeper into the content and, therefore, students are retaining more and at a quicker rate.
The students know what to expect every unit. We have a study set ready to go, we refer to it often with reference to the test date, we give time in class to study, and then we play Quizlet Live! By the end of the unit, if the students aren't doing well on the practice tests on Quizlet, then they know they are not ready to for the actual unit assessment. This a great way for students to self monitor and own their success — once they make the connection between doing well on Quizlet and doing well on the assessments, then they're convinced.
Making class fun and engaging is also extremely important, and there are endless ways to leverage Quizlet in the classroom. Quizlet Live by itself is amazing and students love to play it all year long, especially when there are rewards. At Barton, we like to give out paper cutouts of our mascot to winning teams, to write in their names and put them on the wall. Students love seeing their names up as the year goes on. You can also play different variations of Quizlet Live that are easy to do, like a Silent Round, One-on-One, tournaments, Quizlet Live 11, and more. The other activities Quizlet offers are great to adapt for the classroom too — you can use Flashcards mode to play board races, Family Feud, and Tic-Tac-Toe. Your only limitation to Quizlet is your imagination.
Show me the data: State Assessment results
Additionally, the data proves how effective using Quizlet is for the success of all students. The district I work in has benchmark tests every nine weeks and after our first benchmark, my school was performing just a little better than our district average. At the start of the year the students had not fully bought into Quizlet yet, so this was our baseline data. By the third benchmark, our students were fully onboard and engaged with Quizlet — and across the three grades studying with Quizlet regularly, scores were about 20% to 30% higher than the rest of the district.
When we finally received our State Assessment results, they solidified the Quizlet Difference. Our school outperformed the district and the State average by 27% and received the highest State rating for our social studies commended rate — which means we had the most students (33%) scoring 86% or higher. Only four schools have had state recognition in my district and we truly believe integrating Quizlet has made this type of success possible for our students.
Michael Snead is the Learning Specialist for 6th-8th History at Barton Middle School, where he's taught for the past last 8 years. He works to incorporate technology on campus that has transformed classrooms and increased student success. In 2017, Michael was named teacher of the year for Barton Middle School and the Hays Consolidated Independent School District for his work to successfully increase student test scores by using innovative technology in the classroom.