Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flashcards in practice

Really inspiring to see how teachers can take a few ideas from a workshop or a friend, and build something truly remarkable.  We all have to walk a tight-rope between trying to cover the syllabus while at the same time attempting to find time to create opportunities for meaningful learning.

The vocabulary 'journal' is a good case in point, and thanks to Erhan, we have a nice example of how such a resource can be made more 'interactive' and more 'fun' for students. Erhan has been plugging away at the target vocabulary for the past few days, and has already amassed a considerable number of flashcards in his 'channel' at http://www.studystack.com/users/kerimabdulcanbaz

  • I really like the way he has numbered the stacks, making it easy to sort them and find a particular set matched to a particular point in the syllabus.  And, as Talip showed us in his workshop, you can 'tick' multiple stacks to create activities (I love the hangman game) to use directly in class. Combining words from multiple stacks means that students can start to see how learning vocabulary is cumulative, and not just learning words one week and then forget about them.
  • Also, the PRINT option to create crosswords, wordsearch puzzles, and matching activities as a worksheet to use in class is a great way to add variety to a lesson, and have on hand when the technology lets us down.
  • Also, it is possible for students to download these to their smart phones, as Talip showed us.  

In fact, it might be an idea for teachers at one level to 'share the load', and each do one stack apiece and share the results.  Of course, as Algi mentioned to me in the hall, it would be even better to shift this responsibility onto the shoulders of students, and get them to build the stacks for us. Now that prospect is really attractive....

6 comments:

  1. Really great practical workshop from Steve and Talip - Showed us how the basic idea of flashcards can become much more interesting for the students with the 'game' aspect, plus teachers can have instant 'tests' or practice exercises too. Get the students to create their own stacks, after all everyone learns vocabulary in a different way. The 'techy' ones will love to make their own, the others can just use the teacher's ideas if they want.
    Thanks Steve and Talip - and Erhan for showing us what can be done.
    www.studystack.com

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  2. I too enjoyed the workshop. I can't say I make good use of the site in my teaching experience as my students don't like working together to complete a competition. Instead, they would rather do it at home as self study. I have heard about other instructors that they had positive feedback from the students. Mine was just that they wanted more work on self-study, where they feel comfortable within their boundaries, choosing the activities they want to focus on and recyle. I had e-mails from students saying it was dull, boring and repetitive. However, they agreed with the fact that they had to recyle the language they have just learnt. My explanation was through a picture of what Steve had already told us; that they could use several stacks at one time by clicking the button, "use checked sets". After that, my students sent comments on the facebook saying it makes sense now that they have to rely on their previous knowledge. Anyway, thanks Steve and Talip for bringing it up and introducing us to a new learning technology.

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  3. Erhan -- you make a good point about language learning...it isn't all wine and roses. It does require effort and certainly repetition and memory is a big factor, as research has shown. But, Talip's demonstration of the use of smart phones could be a way to show students how flashcard software can make the process of learning a language much less dull, boring and repetitive. If I were learning a foreign language, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be using a smart phone as Talip showed. Perhaps it might be an idea to have a 'demonstration' titled 'Learning English can be phone with a smart phone' and invite students to attend? This could be held in Turkish to get the message across most effectively. What do you think?

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  4. Hi Steve,

    I think you are right. Smart phones are especially good for self-study. If only I had enough time to show them how to do so. A workshop would be nice, but then, it's not easy to carry out with such a great number of students.

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  5. Hi all,

    I have tried using the quizlet with my students. I asked for their feedback on facebook, but it seems they did not find it very fun or user-friendly, because only one person gave feedback, the rest did not even bother. However, the next day I sent them another set of flashcard, this time with study stack as usual. They started posting feedback immediately after I sent the link. Moreover, I myself find study stack more user-firendly since the students don't have to keep changing settings and clicking buttons to get what thHi all,

    I have tried using the quizlet with my students. I asked for their feedback on facebook, but it seems they did not find it very fun or user-friendly, because only one person gave feedback, the rest did not even bother. However, the next day I sent them another set of flashcard, this time with study stack as usual. They started posting feedback immediately after I sent the link, so I guess study stack is far more user-friendly and popular among students. I also personally think that study stack is far more easier to use not only for the teacher, but also for the students since they will have to struggle with so many settings, clicking buttons to do what they want in each activity.

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  6. Great to learn from your experience with students. I like QUIZLET for all the reasons your students don't -- it is sophisticated, fosters social constructivist approaches to learning, and has a more 'polished' interface. 'Acceptability' and 'Ease of Use' are two of the ACUTE principles I follow, so it is really useful to learn from your approach. Thanks for sharing this!

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