My daughter, now 11, came home from school last year needing to study 20 vocabulary words for her Language Arts class. This was our first experience with so many difficult vocabulary words and she was really struggling with how to study for the quiz. I suggested she make flash cards on index cards to use to study so she sat down and wrote out all her index cards, the same way I did 20 years ago! Each night for a week she would study the index cards and I would quiz her on the words. And each night, she would get more and more frustrated that she was not "getting" it. She took her first vocabulary quiz and totally bombed it! I was shocked- the index cards ALWAYS worked for me! I used them for everything! What were we going to do?
So, I went online and found the site Quizlet.com . Quizlet is a GREAT website to help students study not only vocabulary but any content they are struggling with because it allows users to type in their own content. It then makes online index cards, can vocalize the information to the user, allows students to play games using the content, and generates quizzes for them to take using the kind of questions you set (i.e matching, true/false, multiple choice, etc.). It grades the quiz instantly and tells them their grade. It also allows you to use other people's creations by searching by topic. My daughter used this site and got an A on her next quiz (and every quiz to this day). I was tutoring another fifth grader in Language Arts and it worked for him too!
It was very interesting to me that it worked so quickly for her. Immediately, she was able to easily learn her vocabulary, get an A online, and transition that to her quizzes in school. Just by putting it on the computer, she "got it". Allowing her to play games and instantly take different quizzes on it over and over, engaged her interest in learning it and helped her be successful. What worked for me so many years ago, truly didn't work for her. You cannot help but wonder if children's brains are really wired differently. I do believe that they process things differently and that they need different ways than adults to engage them in their learning. It is examples like this that truly show us the need to use technology in the classroom and change the way we are educating our children today.
One last tidbit: our Third Grade students took a reading test last week on their comprehension of a story they read in their Reading text books. The reading was done is a group setting: the students sat in a reading circle, took turns reading from the text and discussing it with guided teacher questions as they read. A majority of the class failed this test and scores were VERY low. They even had trouble with concepts like how the story ended. This week, we have tried something new; reading the story on the smartboard. With our Journeys Reading Program, we are able to access the student text book on the smartboard. It will read the story to the students, highlighting the sentences as it is read aloud. As we went through the story on the smartboard, students were able to easily answer the teacher's questions without the usual prodding. Our first impression was very positive: the students demonstrated both comprehension and higher level critical thinking skills, and appeared actively engaged in the story. They no longer had that bored look or were distracted by the book itself or their shoelaces. I asked the students their opinion on watching it on the smartboard and they all said they liked it. About 8 of them said they just listened to the story but didn't read the words, 5 of them said they read the words as they listened and only 3 did a combination of both as the story went on. It appears the smartboard really engaged them in the lesson. The test is today so I am interested to see if this will carry over onto the test! Check back for an update!