Saturday, June 6, 2009

Surviving the last 2 Weeks (#2): Reviewing with Flashcards

Image from Weblo.comCelebrities @

As promised last week, I am writing tonight about another review tool that I have just started using again with my students -- flashcards. My students don't have a lot of patience with making these by hand or reviewing in general, so I've spent most of this afternoon looking for programs they would find engaging enough to prompt them to review. These were the deciding factors for my 3 picks:
a) free
b) easy to enter and edit the information (The kids can do it.)
c) online -- nothing has to be downloaded (We are not allowed to download to school machines where I work.)
d) engaging -- some entertainment value
e) more than one way of questioning is possible (If a program did flashcards only I passed it by.)

Here are my top 3 choices:

Quizlet has 5 ways to present the information. I've used one of my student's lists as an example. There is also a 4 minute video tour.
  • In Familiarize the student is prompted to use the cards for practice.
  • Learn requires the student to type in an answer to the prompt.
  • Test mode -- turns the student's list into 4 kinds of questions: written, matching, multiple choice, and true/false. Below is a test created with my student's deck.

Test: Beau's Ecosystems

1 Written Questions

2 Matching Questions

  1. Biodegration
  2. Prey
  1. the decay process that makes the nutrients contained in waste and dead matter available to producers once again
  2. an organism that makes its own food, usually using energy from the sun in a process called photosynthesis; also called an autotroph
  3. d an animal consumed for food by a predator

3 Multiple Choice Questions

  1. a decomposer that feeds on the waste material in an ecosystem, including the bodies of other organisms that have died, plant debris, and animal wastes

5 True/False Question

  1. Phytoplankton → microscopic algae that obtain energy through photosynthesis; they are found at the surface of oceans, seas, freshwater bodies

Testscan be reconfigured so the students have to supply the definitions rather than the terms. They can be copied and pasted into a text document, so if you want to create your own deck for build tests item, Quizlet will work very well. You can select the features to ignore (case, punctuation, spaces, stuff in parentheses) when computer scoring.
  • There are 2 Games formats: -- Scatter (a drag-&-drop matching game) and Space Race (students must type in the answer before the prompt crosses the screen).
  • Discuss box -- In the chat room, anyone who is online can read and answer.
I've had several students using this program. Remind them to save frequently! Occasionally the work can be lost and the autosave may not work.


Brainflips bills itself as the home of "the world's smartest flashcards." This is a fun, highly interactive website that allows users to add images, voice, and video to their cards. There are 3 practice modes:

  • Introduction -- which shows term and explanation side by side,
  • Traditional -- which shows the question and followed by the answer, and
  • Response -- which asks the student to either type in an answer or answer a pre-loaded multiple choice question.
Students can track their successes and set a timer. The deck creator can enter alternate answers that will be accepted and can customize by checking options to ignore punctuation or capitalization errors. Hints can also be provided for the user. Here's the link to their tour and to a great list of 20 poetry terms you can explore without registering. (Click the picture to go directly to the poetry practice page.)


This seems to be intended to help students with the learning of Japanese and English. Larry Ferlazzo (Feb 22, 2009) was the source for this selection. As he says, there aren't a lot of ready-made lists in English yet, but your students can have the fun of submitting early entries. Here's a nice sample deck about types of birds.
Once students choose the "iKnow" mode and click the orange Start Button, they can:
  • Preview -- this mode shows thumbnails of all images and the correct responses.
  • Study -- click the next orange button and you begin studying. This brings up a larger image image with its term. The term is read to aloud (great feature!) and the user can click for Extra Info.
  • Summary -- after practising is complete, feedback is provided.
  • Study -- brings up each image and asks students if they know the image. When they say yes, a multiple choice item with immediate feedback is presented. This is timed. In the settings students can select 'strict' or 'lenient' mode for spelling and choose whether the quiz should be multiple choice only or with typing as well.
The only frustrating thing I found is that you can't advance forward or go back through these modes using the menu on the left of the iKnow panel.

Coming Soon: lots of interesting and usegfulGoogle resources. I'm thinking of applying to go this summer's Google Teacher Academy in Boulder.

No comments:

Post a Comment