This post is written by Patrick McMillan, a fifth through eighth grade Latin teacher and tech coach from St. Gregory the Great School in Williamsville, New York. Find him on Twitter at @EdTechMcMillan or at pmcmillan.com.
Vocabulary is important for every subject and even more so in the age of high stakes testing. Early on in my teaching career, I moved rather quickly towards using Quizlet to create and manage the vocabulary that my students would need to learn.
Quizlet is by no means limited to just vocabulary though; as study questions, diagrams, pronunciation, and pictures make it a powerful tool. Quizlet allows you to turn any picture into a study set, which significantly broadens what you can do with it. Quizlet has several other diagram examples for every subject here.
I remember the first time that I played Quizlet Live and it was glorious. Students immediately began communicating with each other, were excited about vocabulary, and couldn’t wait to learn more.
As I surveyed the room, all I could do was stand back and smile, knowing that this was a game changer. Every day afterwards, students would keep coming back to class asking, “Can we collaboratively learn vocabulary in an engaging and exciting way today?” Well, they didn’t say it that way, but that’s what my teacher ears heard. Quizlet Live is also a great game for teaching soft skills, such as teamwork and acting positively towards teammates.
“Quizlet Live is a free in-class game where students work in teams to learn study sets on Quizlet. Teams work together to correctly match the (twelve random) terms and definitions in a study set. The first team to match all of their terms and definitions wins!” (via Quizlet help page)
Though the students always enjoyed the original gameplay, I began to experiment with different ways of playing. There were some missed opportunities that would give students an even better grasp of their learning. Eleven was my first experiment and soon after came Cacophony, Silent, Relay, and Tag Team.
6 new ways to play Quizlet Live!
I found that during the game, some teams might struggle and fall behind others. After a team won, the losing teams might not have had a chance to master the content, so I sought a way to remedy it. By playing to eleven, every team has to master all the questions, as there is only one answer and question left on each team’s screens at the end. You can even add another element to this game by timing the students and see how fast everyone can finish. Challenge them with decreasing times each round. It is important to constantly shuffle teams, so some students don’t feel singled out as the slowest.
After finding success with Eleven, I moved onto some other experiments. CACOPHONY isn’t a game for the weak of heart. Your students will be playing loudly and enthusiastically. I struggled with not writing this paragraph in all caps to get this idea across. Who said learning should be quiet anyway? Students do learn during this game, however, that the louder they are, the less they can hear their teammates. Students enthusiastically shouting vocabulary across the room always brings me back to why I love Quizlet Live in the first place.
Cathleen Lacey has found great success in utilizing many of these different games. For some of the games, I have included a link to her Twitter that contains a video of her class playing.
Silent is a game which lives in stark contrast to Cacophony. This game forces students to be creative in how they communicate with each other. When students are playing for the first time, it is a good idea to give them a few minutes to brainstorm ideas on how to communicate without words. They could use such signals as thumbs up, thumbs down, make the first letter of the answer with their hands, hands in the air (unsure), etc… You might even give them an opportunity to to create signs before the game. It is funny to see how enthusiastic students can get while simultaneously being quiet.
Relay is perhaps one of my favorite games. This game requires students to be individually accountable for finding the answer to a given question, while looking at all the team’s screens, and also allows them to move around the room. When students have found their answer, the next student takes a turn. In the diagram above, all computers are lined up in a row, though you can spread the computers out to make the students move more if you have room. Putting the computers in a circle is also fun, forcing the students to run in a circle until they find the answer. It is the teacher’s choice whether the other students are allowed to help (without looking).
My second favorite game has to be Tag Team, though I like Matt Miller’s Quarterback title better. The reason that I love this game so much, is that for every vocabulary term that Quizlet Live asks, there are always two students interacting with that word. One student finds the answer on a screen, then taps the next student to actually find the answer on the correct screen. Though this is a silent game, this is actually one of my students’ favorites.
Quizlet Live is a terrific resource to help gamify your classroom and engage your students with your content. Push the envelope, explore, and never stop learning. My students can’t wait to learn and that’s what education is all about. The complete infographic with all the games can be found here (and below).
For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links:
Are you looking for quality, meaningful professional learning that both equips and inspires teachers?
Matt provides in-person and virtual keynotes, workshops and breakout sessions that equip, inspire and encourage teachers to create change in their classrooms. Teachers leave with loads of resources. They participate. They laugh. They see tech use and teaching in a new light. Click the link below to contact us and learn how you can bring Matt to your school or district!
Is Matt presenting near you soon? Check out his upcoming live events!