I’ve used flashcards / study-cards with students for years so I was really excited to find a great online flashcard creator.  Imagine my joy when I discovered Quizlet can track progress, isolate problem areas, create matching games, connect images to terms, display terms, definitions or both simultaneously, administer tests, read out loud to you, and probably more.

Here are some ways I’ve used Quizlet with students:

Creation of Cards

Just the simple act of creating cards with terms, definitions, and images can help a student study. Creating them online means they have access to them at school and at home and they can’t say they’ve lost them. As they are creating the cards, students can write their own definitions or choose from a bank provided by Quizlet.  I found it was really helpful for students to read multiple definitions and evaluate which one fits their term best.

Quizlet 1


Studying the Cards

You can set it up to study with the definition displayed first and the term on the back of the card, vice versa, or you can start out with both the term and definition shown on the front depending on the confidence level of the student.  Clicking on the text on the card means the computer will read it out loud to you which is amazing for any students struggling with reading or processing difficulties. You can also star the cards that are most difficult and study those seperately.

Quizlet 3

Quizlet 2


Checking Your Progress

You can check your progress with the “Learn” tab which displays either the term or definition and you need to enter the corresponding answer.  This also will speak the text out loud to you and it allows you to override an incorrect answer and mark it as correct if it was a spelling error.  This is really important for many of the students I work for.

quizlet 4

You can also check your progress through the “Test” tab and there are many customization options for the types of questions included.  If you’d prefer, you can print the test and administer it on paper as a home review or practice.  It will automatically mark the test online or print an answer key for you if you choose to print it.

Another option for checking your progress is the “Scatter” tab which my students love.  It’s a  timed matching game which is pretty addicting in terms of trying to beat your best score.

Quizlet 5


While I don’t think this tab is the best way to solidify the knowledge needed it is great to have so many different ways to work with the same information.  Variety is key and being tested in so many different modes is essential for students to integrate information.

Are there any other uses for Quizlet that I’ve missed? How do you support students in studying for tests?

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Who doesn’t love to squish around with play-dough.  Add a timer and some competition to the mix and you’ve got a great way to jazz up grammar.

I wanted to do a review/check-in of the basic parts of speech to make sure my students had them really solidly but I didn’t want to give them a worksheet.  I love anything that makes their hands busy so I pulled out play-dough and a timer.

They each had a blob of play-dough in front of them.  I called out a word and they had 1 minute to create a representation of that word. (I used an online random word generator for an added bit of fun). When the timer dinged, they revealed their play-dough creations and animated them if necessary. They took turns with their opponents and got a point for naming the part of speech of the given word. They also received a point for the best representation of the word (as voted by me) :)


We did nouns, adnouns (adjectives), verbs, and adverbs but I’m sure prepositions would have been fun too.


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Word: munch (verb)                                Word: slimy (adjective / adnoun)

A fun, hands on way to review and practice grammar!


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Guest post by Ben explaining the use of pun and oxymoron
Did you hear about the man who had his whole left side cut off? he’s all right now.

The two presentations below define and give examples of Puns and Oxymorons. If you are a teacher, author or student, then this is the post for you. These two literary terms can be useful when writing an essay or short story to provide humor and contradictions to traditional writing styles. If you’re an author, this is a bit of a refresher course if you’ve forgotten how to use these literary terms. If you’re a teacher, these prezis would be very useful as teaching examples. In case you’re a student, they can be useful for taking your writing to the next level. I found making these presentations really fun to make and research.

How do you use these terms to enrich your writing?


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I think that most of us are clear on the fact that Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic” got it wrong. But I have always found irony to be a difficult literary device to teach and most students have a hard time understanding it.  The video below is a great place to start to show what irony is.


It’s really clear about what irony is and there are a few other videos on different types of irony at TED Ed’s The Writer’s Workshop.

QUESTION:  What do you do to help your students understand irony?



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A great way to tie together the meaningkeyword, and examples of a newly learned affix in a creative visual way.

I taught -ium with the keyword radium to help my student prep for her upcoming chemistry unit.  We started with the meaning, talked about elements, explored the periodic table, learned the new suffix, and practiced some decoding with some of the more challenging elements.

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The following class, I wanted to reinforce the learned concept and give her more practice spelling with -ium so I drew the outline of the suffix and passed it over to her.  She then filled in the meaning and keyword, and began spelling words all over the diagram.  After she had perfected the placement and spelling of every word, she added color and made sure to always highlight the suffix with the same color.  This reinforces the placement of the suffix, its spelling, and connects it to the meaning. Best of all, she had a blast spelling and decorating!

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*I got this idea off of Pinterest but could not trace it back to the original.  If anyone has seen it before, let me know as I’d love to give credit to the incredibly creative individual!  You can follow my “OG Ideas” Pinterest board through the link on the header.

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Multisensory Components

Visual: The frame itself reinforced the suffix as did every word she added and the brain loves color!
Auditory: She repeated the words out loud before spelling and used her voice to help her spell.  I also continually reinforced the suffix by asking her to tell me what it meant or find it in a word or repeat her “phrase” etc…
Kinesthetic: She got to write, color, and cut out the shape and individual words which continually reinforced the suffix.

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I wanted to find a simple, fun, and hands-on way to help my student practice and develop her understanding of the different types of sentences and improve her sentence variety in her writing.  So rather than putting a pencil in her hand, I chose to use simple cue cards and sticky notes so that she could physically build different combinations to create different sentences and see how conjunctions “stick” sentence parts together.

First we started by reviewing the concepts we would need.

She needed to know what a dependent and independent clause was and give me an example.  She also needed to be able to tell me the difference between conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions. As we reviewed these concepts I made cards and sticky notes to visually represent the ideas.

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Once I knew she was confident enough to identify and give me examples of each, then we started to put it together with the different types of sentences.  I put a card in front of her that said “simple sentence“, “compound sentence“, or “complex sentence” and she needed to use the clauses and conjunctions to build them.

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The next step was to point to each element as she said a sentence that fit the model she had built.  For example, for compound sentence, she pointed at the independent clause and said “My cat loves to eat goldfish”.  The she pointed to the conjunction and said “but”.  Lastly she pointed to the second independent clause card and said “she hates the taste of guppies”.

In this way she was connecting the framework she had built in front of her to the sentence she was saying.

The last step up from this was to combine the different clauses and conjunctions in different ways and make sentences based on the different models.  She built complex/compound sentences, complex/complex sentences and even a few complex/compound/complex sentences.  She followed the same process for each and used the frame she built to say a sentence out loud that matched it.

It was a great way to practice but it led to a lot of good questions and discussions about what works, what doesn’t, and why variety is important.

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We will continue to build and practice this a few times before moving on to applying the skills to her writing but I think the next time we will work on connecting the different sentences to a topic or image so they relate to each other.

Multisensory Components

Visual: Cue cards and sticky notes with each building block on a different color
Auditory: Saying the sentences out loud as she built
Kinesthetic: Physically moving the pieces around to build the framework of each sentence

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I love finding simple, new and engaging ways to assess students’ learning!

Instead of a formal pencil to paper assessment of my students’ ability to convert fractions, I asked them to create a video tutorial for next year’s students.  They needed to do an example of each conversion, from mixed to improper and improper to mixed.  It had to include a visual step by step along with clear mathematical explanations of what they were doing and the thinking/reasons behind it.  We also talked about the use of lines, shapes, and colors in highlighting the most important information.  Then students were on their own.

For some students this was an incredibly difficult thing to do, especially when they were asked to verbalize their thinking or reasoning behind a step.  However, I think this makes it an even more valuable experience and one that I will repeat often.

Here are a few samples:

Converting Improper Fractions to Mixed Numbers from Sharon deVries on Vimeo.

Converting Mixed Numbers to Improper Fractions from Sharon deVries on Vimeo.


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I asked my students to write a post on their blogs about what Genius Hour was for them.  Here are a few genius gems from their posts:

  • “What is Genius Hour? Have you heard of it? Well, Genius Hour is a new thing that is inspiring kids across North America and their teachers to take an hour out of there day, at school, or at home to improve in an area they are interested in.” ~ Anna
  • “Now your probably wondering what genius hour is. Genius hour is an hour where the students get to choose what project they get to work on.” ~ Graham
  • “…Genius hour works on the idea implied in it’s name, that everyone is genius and has a good idea within them. It supplies us one hour (45mins) to work on anything of our choice (anything that we can show as a finished project as an end result). Personally I love the concept of genius hour and it has allowed me to finalize and finish a board game concept I have been working on for months. Genius hour I believe is the best project a teacher has ever assigned ( actually more a project a teacher never assigned) and I strongly believe other teacher out there should assign it.” ~ Maceo
  • “Our class has been doing Genius Hour, which is when the teacher gives us an hour to learn about what ever we want.” ~ Paytyn

Go to “Student Blogs” list on the side bar to visit each blog and read their full responses.

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A huge thank you goes out to Tracy Taylor, the grade 2/3 teacher, for being willing to jump on board and help make this happen.

I am so inspired by the thinking and learning that went on for my grade 7′s when they were faced with having to explain something to a younger student.  Mrs. Taylor and I found spots in science, math, and language arts where the curriculum in grade 7 and grade 2/3 connected and set up opportunities once a week for cooperative learning and collaboration between the grade 7 and grade 2/3 students.

The “Big Buddies” (grade 7) were expected to take on a leadership role in these scenarios and their instructions were simple: “empower these younger students to think deep and encourage them so they feel amazingly proud of themselves”.

We learned that empowering does not mean doing it for them, nor does it mean leaving them on their own.  The Delvers had to find a balance between the two and they noticed that this balance was different depending on who they were working with.  In the midst of all this amazing learning, I noticed that in setting out to empower deep thinking in others, they became deep thinkers themselves and in setting out to build up the confidence of another, they became more confident and proud of themselves.

Don’t you just love it when things like this happen!

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 We’ve been LOVING the freedom and ownership involved in Genius Hour.  As a teacher I really appreciate the opportunity it provides students in directing their own learning.  Some of them are struggling with this and I think it will be awhile before they trust that there is no teacher agenda or final picture of what it should look like.  It has really got me thinking about all the  ways I could offer room for different expressions of learning in other curriculum areas.

Some of our GENIUS projects on the go this week:

  • designing a video game inspired board game for the whole class to play
  • exploring online drawing tools to decide which would be the best to use
  • researching techniques and strategies for becoming a master of Minecraft
  • learning complicated hair braiding techniques
  • practicing the rainbow kick for the upcoming soccer season
  • producing a video on Parkour
Question for all you educators using Genius Hour:  
How do you hold students accountable to the use of their time?

Other GENIUS projects happening around the web:


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