Tech for Teach

Quizlet.Live: Classroom based social vocabulary game

quizletlivemadness

Quizlet Live is a website-based classroom vocabulary game where teams of three or four students work together to be first to match vocabulary terms with their correct definitions. Quizlet Live is a new feature of Quizlet, an excellent digital flashcard website and smartphone application already popular with many teachers. It is free and easy to use, allowing teachers to create customized flash cards with text, images and audio, as well as share with and borrow from other users.

To use Quizlet Live in the classroom, the teacher and students will each need to have an Internet connected computer or mobile device. It is important to understand that this is a website-based game (NOT the Quizlet smartphone application) and is designed to work on any device, even older mobile phones. Students do not need to download any programs or applications nor register/sign up for anything. While not necessary, it is very helpful to be able to project the computer or device display onto a large screen so students can see the appropriate websites and track their teams progress during game play. 

 

Before introducing Quizlet Live

First, teachers must create a free account on the Quizlet website: Quizlet.com.  Next, create your own deck of flashcards or search through any of the thousands of sets created by other teachers. To see a good English/Japanese example, here is a link to a deck of flashcards about “Vacations” that I have used successfully. (https://quizlet.com/30856965/vacations-flash-cards/)

 

Introducing Quizlet Live in class

While logged into Quizlet.com, chose a deck and click on the blue box labeled “Live” at the top right of the website page.” This will open the Quizlet Live page where it is possible to create a game, watch an instructional video, or try a demonstration version of the game.

live button

Clicking on “Create Game” leads to a new page with instructions for students to go to the URL “quizlet.live” (https://quizlet.com/live) and enter the six-digit “Join Code.”  Write the website (quizlet.live) and the game code on the blackboard (If you have already taught the class how to use the Quizlet website and/or app, which I normally do, it can cause confusion. Be sure to let them know this is not the Quizlet app, but a website they need to access with their browser.)

code

If possible, project this website screen from the teacher computer or device onto a large screen so the students know where they are supposed to go. It is also a good idea to log into this website on a mobile device to carry around the room and show students what webpage they should find. There are two common problems at this point:

  1. Students go to “quizlet.com”. 
  2. Students open the Quizlet smartphone application if already downloaded.

In a few cases, my students have been unable to enter the code number using the Japanese “flick” style smartphone keyboard. A possible solution for this type of situation is to change the keyboard to the traditional QWERTY keyboard. If there is no QWERTY keyboard, try having the student switch back and forth between the English flick keyboard and their native language flick keyboard after entering each number. Quizlet has already been alerted about this potential problem, so it may be fixed soon.

Once students enter the code and push the “Join Class” button, they will be prompted to enter their first name. If another student has already taken that name, they will be asked to enter their last initial. If a student makes a mistake and it is necessary to change the name, click on that name on the teacher screen and delete it, and the student will be prompted to enter a new name.

At this point, their display will say “Waiting for your teacher to start.” Their name will also appear on the the teacher game screen, as well as the number of students who have logged in. When first introducing Quizlet Live, during this logging in process, it will probably be necessary to circle around the room, troubleshooting problems. It is recommended to become familiar with the process beforehand to quickly get everyone logged into the game.

waiting

When all the students have logged in, click the “Start Game” button to go to the next stage.  If students fail to login correctly before the game starts, they can be added after the current game is over. If at any point students who were correctly logged in lose Internet connection, return to a previous web page, or close the webpage, the game will give them the option to “Refresh” or  “Re-join the game I was in.”

At this point, Quizlet will create random animal named teams of three or four students depending on the total number.  The students’ screens will display their animal team name and image, as well as the names of other teams members.  Instruct the students to stand up, find the other members of their team, and sit together. This is where the beauty of this game really shows, students must physically stand up and move around the room to form groups and work together. 

Once everyone is ready, select “Start Game”, and students will begin to work together to match the vocabulary term with the correction definition. Each member of the team will have the same vocabulary term at the top of the screen. Below that term will be three or four definitions from the total of 12 questions. Only one of the definitions on one team member’s screen will be correct. The team must work together to identify the correct definition.  If successful, the definition will turn green and disappear and the next vocabulary term will appear. If the choice is incorrect, the definition will turn red and all screens will then show the correct answer before starting the team over from the beginning. The first team to correctly answer all 12 questions in a row is the winner.

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The teacher can then choose to exit the game, play the game again, shuffle teams and play again, or review the cards with the class. For an alternative idea, try using trivia sets such as this “Sports Trivia” set. Or, search for sets which use images instead of definitions. Great for certain types of vocabulary like “kitchen tools“.

waiting

 

Tech for Teach

Verso

How can we get everyone’s opinion on a particular task?  How can we give a voice to the students that are too shy to contribute in class?  There is definitely no perfect answer to this situation, but Verso Active Learning has developed a tool that can provide an opportunity for all students to contribute and remain anonymous.

The premise of Verso is quite different to others.  It was founded on the thinking of notable leaders in the education world, John Hattie and Alan November, and places more emphasis on good pedagogy.  The effectiveness of the app cannot be realised without it being embedded in well thought out pedagogy created by the teacher.  The lead up and follow up must be well designed before encouraging the students to use the program.  So, this increases the credibility of the application and is a good advocate against it being regarded as just another distraction.

Getting started

So, how does it work?  First of all, Verso is an app and has a website version, so it can be downloaded for free and used on any device through the Google Play Store, Chrome’s Web store, the Microsoft Store, or from the Apple App store.

Verso devices

A teacher must create an account before the students get started, which can be done easily through their website at https://app.versoapp.com/.

You are given the option to sign up with a Google account, however any valid email address will be accepted.  After the usual sign up process, you will need to create a class on the Classes page that you would like to organise your students and material within.Code for Verso

This will create a specific code that will become important once you ask your students join.

Within the class, the teacher should create their first “Activity”, sometimes called a “flip”.  As can be seen from the options available, you are not restricted form what you can provide.  The stimulus could be to watch a video made by yourself or from YouTube, an image, a document, or simply to go to a specific website.  The “Copy Existing” option also allows you to borrow an activity designed by another educator from your institution using Verso.  In a large school, this is an invaluable option for collaboration and data collection.

collaboration

As stated earlier, this application is driven on the use of good pedagogy.  So, the instructions given to the students for this stimulus must be clear, concise, and elicit deeper thinking.  I recommend that you provide guidance on what to do afterwards as well, e.g. “Now comment on two other students’ posts”.

Now that the foundation has been created, you can ask your students to create an account.  Ensure they select Student instead of Teacher when signing in, and be sure to give your students the class code that was mentioned earlier.  This will allow them to go straight to the Class page you created.  There, they will see your first flip and the instructions you attached to it.

Why is it powerful?

The mission of Verso is to facilitate personalised learning, activate every student’s voice and enable feedback from peers or teachers.  Verso does this very well.

Students are all anonymous within the class and labelled as “Respondent”, however the teacher will be able to switch between “Student View” and “Teacher View” to monitor specific student involvement.  This provides a non-threatening environment in which the students can have their say, thus hopefully encouraging more input which would otherwise have been difficult to elicit in a traditional classroom environment.

Secondly, students cannot see the feedback to their own post until they have responded to at least two or three of their peers’ posts.  This is decided by the teacher during the creation of the flip.  This guarantees more input and has the potential to direct the discussion in unanticipated paths, which is exciting for educators.  This also elicits sharper and hopefully deeper thinking to discussions.

Tools for the teachers

The Dashboard displays all of the flips that you are associated with.  It could be compared to a landing page or homepage.

Dashboard

However, the Library offers a lot more options for the teacher to manipulate, particularly if it is used by multiple teachers in your institution.  As the tool bar at the top of the page indicates, you can view your flips in the categories you created it within, which is particularly useful for educators that teach across disciplines or year levels.

Verso library

Verso activity in libraryFurthermore, if you click on the “Activity Library” heading, it will drop down two options.  If, there are multiple teachers using the program within your school, you can share resources and observe how those instruments were scaffolded in their classes.  You are also given the option to “Clone” the flip into your own area.  This is incredibly useful and in the spirit of collaboration.

The My Stats option allows you to monitor the engagement level to your flips, and delving deeper enables you to see the social media-like “helpful” count, and the students who are yet to comment on the flip.Verso stats

So how can this be useful in the language learning context?  As my old tennis coach would say, “whether it is an old-fashioned wooden tennis racquet or a modern, state-of-the-art one, it all comes back to the person knowing how to use it”.  There are a multitude of ways in which you could use Verso.  The most important aspect is understanding the purpose of such a program, and learning how to get the most out of each student.  This forces the teacher to consider the wording of their instruction, the value of the feedback from peers, and the effectiveness of the teacher’s feedback guides elicit deeper and critical thinking.