Establishing meaning with Quizlet Live

quizlet liveHave you tried Quizlet’s new “Live” feature yet? I’ve always been a fan of Quizlet but with Live, they have taken online fun to another level. I have not seen such a strong response by students since Kahoot came along!

The way it works is students visit the site The teacher brings up a quizlet set that either they have already created or that someone else created. Click the “Live” icon (a purple rectangle). This will generate a code which students use to join the game. What sets Quizlet live apart is students are then automatically placed into teams. Each team has the name of an animal, which appear in your target language if the Quizlet set is in the target language. When gameplay begins, each student on the team will see a word on the top of their screen and 4 possible translations of the word. Their teammates also each have 4 possible translations. However, team members don’t know what options their teammates have. If a student answers incorrectly, their team is penalized by 3 seconds. Students quickly learn to communicate with each other!

I’m seeing students that normally don’t care actually getting competitive and trying to help their team win! I also shuffle the teams each round so they have to work with various people.

I’m not big on teaching with “drills,” but with Quizlet Live, I’ve discovered that students can play without any prior knowledge of the vocabulary. Because the words come up multiple times, student begin to recognize them as they play. It also goes really fast so you can play several rounds in just five minutes.

The way I am using Quizlet Live currently is “establishing meaning” or pre-teaching vocabulary before my students tackle a reading passage or chapter. Rather than using it to memorize vocabulary in isolation or as a review tool, I am finding that this is a great way to quickly and efficiently get words into students’ short-term memory (or more accurately, working memory) so that acquisition begins to occur as I activate the words through reading and discussion.

Give Quizlet Live a try. Your students will love it. And I think you will find that reading/listening will be more productive and less frustrating if students have the vocabulary in their working memory prior to beginning the reading or listening process.


Future ideas for stations

Stations are a fun alternative to traditional whole-class activities!
Stations are a fun alternative to traditional whole-class activities!

I am going to use this post to compile ideas for future stations, general or specific! Feel free to comment if you’d like to add your own ideas! – Using a reading that we would do in class, create a textivate. My station can be located in front of the big screen and use my wireless mouse and keyboard with my desktop computer! (Accountability: group takes a screen shot of completed puzzle and saves on computer at designated location.)

Commercials – Create a cloze activity, Q&A, put phrases in order, etc with any of these commercials.

Puppet Pals – Using my ipad in Guided Access mode (locks the ipad so that only the chosen app can be used until a PIN is entered by me), students create an animated video. NOTE: because ipad won’t turn off in Guided Access mode, bring a power cord! – Set up on a computer with a google doc listing several articles. Students choose an article to read together as a group and use lingro for when they need a word defined. A good introduction to this useful tool?

Jenga game / Don’t Break the Ice game – both of these games can be labeled with a permanent marker with numbers or letters. Provide the students with a list of questions or “problems” that correspond to the letters or numbers on the game. By answering the questions/completing the task/problem correctly students get to play that game piece.

Good old-fashioned flash cards. A simple idea but could make a good station!

I have a large “library” of children’s books and magazines in Spanish. I would LOVE ideas for incorporating these into stations. Currently we do Sustained Silent Reading twice a week for 5 minutes in my level 2 classes. Ideas?


Stations – What I’ll do next time

I had a great time doing stations the past two days. The absolute best part for me was the station where I sat with each group and just conversed. It was really fun and I definitely got a feel for who is really on their game and who needs a little bit of help. 

The listening stations were GREAT! The only minor problem was the audio book CD station took 9 minutes and the other stations tended to go more quickly. I will try more carefully to balance out the times. The kids really liked the 2 music stations.

The describing the scenes station was good but needed some accountability. I tried having them record but ran into a few glitches. I need to think about that one some more.

Bananagrams station was a lot of fun but some groups were more into it than others. I might offer a choice of a couple of different games. I really want to get a Jenga game to make into an activity center! (I saw a cool idea on pinterest…more later!)

The cognate station was also good, but again, could have used some accountability.

Next time I will have groups rotate IN ORDER and set a timer. By the end there were a couple of groups who didn’t get into certain stations because there was no order to the whole thing.

I ended up putting out an Apples to Apples game in Spanish as an extra “bonus” station. They actually played it! I will use games more for sure next time!

All in all it was a success and will definitely be revisited in many forms in the future!



Today I tried stations in my class for the first time! It was great! I had 7 stations (since my largest class is 34!).

Station 1: Waka Waka (the “song of the week” this week)

Waka Waka Station

I cut the lyrics of this song into strips. I also wrote a 33-letter sentence along the left side of each of the 33 strips. “Shakira is from the country of Colombia.” I plugged a Belkin 5-port headphone jack splitter into a desktop computer and attached 5 sets of headphones. Students played the music video from Vevo on the computer as many times as needed to line up the lyrics in the right order.

Station 2: Superman es ilegal (song from movie “La Misma Luna” which we are in the process of watching right now–they heard the song in the movie yesterday).

Superman es ilegal Station

I made a large cloze activity out of the song lyrics. Instead of writing the missing words in, the words were on little slips of paper which had to be physically placed on the space in the lyric sheet. The whole lyrics sheet was the size of 8 sheets of paper which I taped together.  I plugged a Belkin 5-port headphone jack splitter into my classroom’s Chromebook (thanks so much to @edbacker, an anonymous donor, and Hudgins Real Estate for the financial support on that!) and attached 5 sets of headphones. Students played the song from Youtube on the computer as many times as needed.

Station 3: Esperanza

Book on CD Station with Esperanza by Carol Gaab


Students listened to the next chapter of their novel, Esperanza by Carol  Gaab on the audio CD.  I plugged a Belkin 5-port headphone jack splitter into a desktop computer and attached 5 sets of headphones. I provided novels for students to use if they wanted to follow along as well.


Small group conversations with Señora Placido!










Station 4: Conversations!

I sat with students in this group and we chit-chatted en Español about their plans for that afternoon, what sports they play/watch, and the book we are reading in class. SO FUN!


La misma luna scene description station

Station 5: La Misma Luna

I made some screen shots of the DVD and printed them out. In this group, students worked together to describe their photos based on their knowledge of the movie. I started out also having them make a puppet pals video (an app I have on my ipad) but I abandoned that for lack of time after the first class.

Find the cognates in the children’s books!

Station 6: Cognates

I made a large alphabet on a huge sheet of paper. I put a sticky note next to each letter. Students searched through my large collection of children’s books trying to find at least 1 cognate for each letter, and no more than 5 for any given letter. This was pretty easy, but hopefully tricked them into finding some new books to read for SSR next week!

Station 7: Bananagrams

Students played bananagrams in Spanish!

A game makes a quick station and a nice brain break!














Playing the game when you have to cram information

An e-mail I got today:


My name is ********* ********* and I use your books to teach my Spanish classes. I have a question to ask and because I use your books, I chose you – lucky you. If you have the time to answer, I would appreciate your help.

Do you worry about covering thematic vocabulary? If you do, how and when do you do this? Do you try to make it fit in with your chapters or do you teach it separately? I’m scared that I’m not getting in the vocabulary that I should teach. Is there a guide somewhere that says how many words a student should learn in a semester or year? Thank you so much.

My reply:

Dear ********* *********,

I don’t believe there is any such guide telling you how much vocab students must learn in a year, and I do believe that major textbook publishers like EMC, etc would have you believe it is a MUCH higher number than is generally comfortable processing for a student.  They do that because they want teachers to feel like they are getting a “good deal.”

You need to look at your district’s curriculum guide and if you do not have one, are your students taking a common assessment with another class that is “learning” more vocab?

Personally, I do have a couple of thematic topical vocab units that I am forced to cram onto opt to teach my students whenever I am sharing sections of the same course with another teacher who is heavily thematic topical.  (I am a thematic teacher, however my themes are things such as “Immigration,” and “Traveling as an exchange student” and “living during a civil war.” We are talking here about topics such as “adjectives, home furnishings, animals, and the dreaded much anticipated amusement park rides unit.”)

What I generally do in this situation is use and make lots of flashcards (I shell out the extra $10 a year to be able to upload pictures of the vocab).  Here is my account:

Quizlet offers several study or game options!

I go through the flashcards with the whole class for about 5 minutes a day on my projector, and also have them take a day and play the quizlet games in the computer lab. They then have to practice at home (wow, I think I invented the flipped classroom!). Once each student feels he or she knows all of the words well, he or she comes to my desk and takes a quick assessment (I allow the students to decide when they are ready).  I randomly show them 10 different flashcards and they have to say the word.

So, ask yourself…what or who is making you scared?  If it is just your internal voice, tell it to stop and keep doing comprehensible input with small chunks of vocabulary every day.  If it is an external pressure, ask yourself if it has the power to do harm to you if you don’t give in.  If it has that power, play the little game and cram some vocab every now and then.  If it has no power, keep doing comprehensible input with small chunks of vocabulary every day.

Best of luck to you!

MiWLA Handouts and Links

Rejoinder List  we dicussed in Carol Gaab’s workshop on Friday

Transforming the World Language Classroom With Formative Assessment 1:00-4:30 pm University 1

Formative Assessment MiWLA 2011

Angry Birds Article

Robo en la noche Choice Board Projects

Formative Assessment Teacher Tools

Reading Comprehension Assessment

Writing Rubric

Cute “Secret Message” Activity

Formative Assessment Card Sorting Activity (if you are a coach feel free to borrow and use!)

Online Resources for Maximum Learning Impact  2:30-3:20 pm Ballroom F


Leave your impressions of these resources here!