Quizlet vs. Memrise

Lightsaberduel

Via GIPHY

(Don’t let the title fool you: I’ve only tried out one of these tools so far.)

Marek Kiczkowiak’s post in defense of Memrise as a teaching tool inspired me to create Memrise decks for my own students. Following Kiczkowiak’s suggestions, my decks were designed to supplement coursebook material with grammar as well as vocabulary practice. The results were mixed (in case you were wondering): those of my students who used the decks appreciated them, but I think mixing grammar and vocabulary flashcards made the exercise less challenging than it should have been.
Jennifer Wicks’ post on Quizlet as a vocabulary learning tool is more of an overview of its main features, and is light-on for ideas about how to incorporate it into lessons, but it has motivated me to try it out with my students. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Using mobile devices for warmers, fillers and coolers

An essential part of what I do is finding ways to incorporate e-learning and m-learning into the main syllabus, but Peter Pun’s (ELT Planning) post on breaktime games using an interactive whiteboard has got me thinking about how mobile devices can also play a role in the warmer, filler and cooler stages of a lesson.

These “breaktime” stages are helpful not only for re-energising students or revivifying a flagging lesson, or as simple punctuation points between lessons; they also link back to previous input (e.g. by recycling vocabulary) or forward to out-of-class study. Online ELT games can be a useful vehicle for self-directed study, and you could help familiarise students with this by having them try out these games in class on their mobile devices. I like Macmillan Dictionaries’ suite of language games; see Pun’s post and comments for more games to try out.

Irregular Verb Wheel Game

Macmillan Dictionaries’ Irregular Verb Wheel Game

A note of caution: you’d want to make sure you choose games that function just as well on mobile platforms as on desktop. (I found this out the hard way when I tried using a game I’d created in Classtools.)

An alternative to Kahoot!: Quizziz

Tony Vincent (Learning in Hand) compares Kahoot! with other classroom quiz games, with a particular focus on Quizziz.

Kahoot Logo

Kahoot! (which I use on a weekly basis) allows students to participate in an online multiple-choice quiz using a mobile device. The teacher projects the questions and options, and the students play by pressing the button on their device screen that corresponds with their chosen answer. After a time limit is reached or all participants have selected their answers, the correct answer is shown and the class moves on to the next question.

Quizziz (which I’ve never used before) appears to be similar in most respects, but the main difference is that participants can see the questions and answer choices on their mobile devices, and they don’t have to wait for their classmates before proceeding to the next question.

Despite being very similar applications, Vincent maintains that they can both play a role in your classroom. Whereas Kahoot! is a great tool for unit review (not to suggest that it doesn’t have other uses), because everybody moves at the same pace and there are opportunities for the teacher to explain or clarify between each question, the self-paced nature of Quizziz allows it to be used for homework/flipped-classroom activities. Nonetheless, students don’t always appreciate such nuances, so you’d have to be very careful about when to incorporate Kahoot! and Quizziz activities into your programme if you’re going to use both.

I’ve developed several “rules of thumb” for using Kahoot! in the ELT classroom, and I imagine most of them would apply to Quizziz:

  1. 25 questions max. Any more than this, and students start to become bored, drift off, complain about their time being wasted, and so on.
  2. Use “Team Mode” in larger classes. Kahoot! displays a running leaderboard that only includes the top 5 or 6 players; this can be demotivating for those not performing as well.
  3. Design your multiple choice options to target common errors. You can then discuss these with the class and get them to show their understanding of the language point by explaining why certain answers are incorrect.
  4. Ensure your students are clear on the aim of the activity. What makes it a language activity as opposed to a simple game? How is it helping them develop their language skills?
  5. Play it on a scheduled day of the week, at a scheduled time–and no more than once a week. Variety being the spice of life &c.