The Partnership for 21st Century Skills cites the ability to work collaboratively among some very important skills students will need in order to be ready for the careers of the 21st century. However, as school district budgets shrink and as our classroom rosters grow, finding opportunities to have our students collaborate can be difficult. Sometimes, when a class is quite large, setting kids to work in groups creates an exhausting job for the teacher keeping them all productive and on task.
So here’s a simple way to include some collaborative studying while at the same time integrating a basic media literacy element with your next vocabulary unit: Have students create vocabulary note-cards at Quizlet.com and then share them using the “Create a Group” function. All you have to do is create an account, choose the “My Groups” tab, and “create your own” group. Once your group is complete, you can invite students to join and begin creating, sharing, and collaborating.
At first glance, Quizlet might seem too basic to be worth mentioning—it’s just creating a digital version of the old fashioned 3×5 note-cards, right? On the other hand, Quizlet has some very useful features like games with flashcards and a “learning” mode that walks students through a three-step process for mastering whatever information they are studying. There are also thousands of other users already on Quizlet which means thousands of note-cards already available to use in the classroom. And if you’ve got students working on school laptops, in a computer lab, or even on their iPhones and laptops at home, why not challenge them to work and compete on teams? You could have them compete for recall speed and for levels of mastery of vocabulary definitions or literary terms. You might also challenge your students to find innovative ways to represent information so that it is easy to remember (mnemonic devices).
Reward them for working together online and you will be teaching them important core media literacy skills as well as basic vocabulary and terminology.
Check out Quizlet’s “Groups” function. It’s a simple but very useful tool for learning and collaborating online. As always, be sure to carefully protect your students’ personal identification and other information while doing anything online. Here’s a link to a blog article on keeping your students safe online when blogging. Be safe…and happy tech integrating.