Vocabulary, Quizlet, and Cell Phones

Thursday, February 13, 2014
I'm blogging.... at 12:39.... on a Thursday..... why?
Snow day!  I literally think everyone on the eastern seaboard is home today battling snow or ice.  Is it me or is this the worst winter in a while?  I'll take advantage of it, though!  We start our February vacation tomorrow at 2:30 so I can take a break from planning and prepping and spend some time blogging and creating for TPT.  I'm in the middle of make a really awesome new product.... let's just say Bloom's Taxonomy....... hmmmmmmm?

So what have I been doing that's engaging?
For those of you new to Quizlet, it is a simple online flashcard creator that can be used by both teachers and students.  On top of flashcards, it also uses your words and definitions to make tests and games.

As a teacher you can make multiple sets and create classes to organize them.  Students can create an account and join your class so their words are always a click away.

Vocabulary has always been important to me but since I have been teaching a larger number of ELL students, it has taken on a new urgency.  I'm also a huge fan of skill building.  I always hate when I hear a middle school teacher say something along the lines of, "Jeez, these kids don't know how to study.".  Of course they don't.... no one has taught them to.  We just assume that kids will learn to study out of necessity as opposed to being shown and taken part in multiple ways to study.  
I have a very routine way of accomplishing vocab in social studies.  First, we create a page in our notebook where we list the word, define it, write the sentence from the textbook that contains the word, and draw a picture.

I used to just have my kids create a foldable with just the word and a definition but my ELL students really benefit with more time to process the word.  I have them draw the picture because I believe in adding some creativity to the process.  Our literacy specialist gave me an even better reason to continue the drawing of pictures.  The picture allows you to see if the student truly understands what the word means.  We had a whole bunch of Constitution words to work with (i.e. checks and balances, federalism, etc.).  One girl brought me her words and every picture was of a document.  I was able to ask her if she understood the words and she admitted she didn't so then we brainstormed some pictures together.
When the kids walk in the day of their vocabulary quiz I have Quizlet set up on the two classroom computers, my laptop and projector, and my phone. I let them work individually, or in groups, to study for ten to fifteen minutes. The first time I introduced this I also allowed them to download the Quizlet apps to their phones and took the time to hook them up to our class.  That time has paid off immensely.

Look at all those fabulous kids on their cell phones..... studying!!!!  They love Quizlet so much they even started to make flashcards for terms in their other classes.  Their favorite thing is to race each other on the Scatter game (it's like Memory).  I love it because they forget they're studying!  Vocabulary grades have increased 60% and my kids are learning more about themselves as students.

Check out my profile on Quizlet!

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