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Retrieval practice with Quizlet

This video demonstrates how a flashcard quiz tool can be used for retrieval practice on a team and individual level.
The fact that this school is a 1-1 iPad school has given the opportunity in our teaching to use specific apps. What Quizlet does, it’s got a variety of different features which the students can use independently themselves so flashcards and testing themselves and so on but one relatively recent innovation that they’ve had is Quizlet Live and I think we only came across this about six or seven months ago. It’s the most fantastic collaborative app in the classroom.
So whereas before when you were asking questions to a class, you might find that perhaps at best eighty percent of the students were engaged is this application’s a lot of fun but it ensures that a hundred percent of the students in the class are actively on task and very willingly. ‘I think it’s time that we formally put it to the test, so quick as you can, Cecilia is in their first, excellent. I should have fourteen. Okay, we are going to work in teams. Get ready, you’re moving places. Off you go.
Okay the cheetahs and the stingrays are out in the lead..’ It’s one of a range of techniques for retrieval practice and that’s one aspect I’ve found that students, obviously you know the more they repeat and they recall information, it becomes second nature and this is just one of many tools to do that. [classroom conversation] I think it’s the element that it’s low stakes and so they don’t mind making a mistake but also that element of competition within it means they really are very reluctant to make the mistake and it gets that balance right, particularly in an established group in a class where they’re quite happy to, if you like, let down their defenses.
They’re within a framework that allows them to make mistakes and then to to go back, correct it and see if they can come up and win the Quizlet. [classroom conversation]
‘Okay, now back to your places and keep the iPads open, back to your places.’ It’s also, it’s immediate it’s not written down and I think that’s a real plus when used properly because the students then are… they’re not reticent, whereas if it’s written down they might think, ‘gosh the teachers going to mark this and this is a written record that goes in their book’ and I think breaking down those bounds is hugely valuable in creating a progressive working environment for the students.
I think it’s the versatility in that it can be whole collaborative exercise and as I say it involves every member of the class; they have to be proactively involved but also when you do the silent Quizlet where they have to make the decision on their own without collaboration is, again it’s testing a whole different skill set of that, if you like, risk-taking or responsible risk-taking of the student, teamwork, you can’t sort of sit on your hands, you have to be involved but you can’t ask others for the support and in some ways, or in lots of ways that’s very good preparation for an examination itself.
‘Now thus far I think you’ve had a little bit of safety in numbers, you’ve been doing a lot of collaborating which is excellent but this one here is going to be in absolute silence, no communication whatsoever.’
You can use it very much as a starter at the beginning for some retrieval practice, you can use it as I did today for consolidation, immediate consolidation of what’s been done. I’ve used it with the year 11 students when they’re preparing for revision for their whole GCSE is to use it as interleaving so as to give them a Quizlet from a previous topic.
Experience has taught me is if I were to say to a class, a year 11 class, we’re going to have a test on the kidney today in which they did a year and a half ago they would be less than satisfied, whereas you say we’re going to do a Quizlet and it ends up being the kidney, they’re absolutely delighted and they go along with it. It’s one of many online resources so a student might use, you know, past papers and mark schemes and flashcards and then a Quizlet and so on but it’s one of many. It does add a a good dynamic and some diversity.

In this video, Matt Corry, a biology teacher at Godolphin & Latymer school (secondary), shares why he makes use of low stakes retrieval practice at the start of his lessons and how a flashcard quiz tool is one of his chosen tools.

In classroom footage, you’ll see how Matt makes use of the tool for both collaborative (where answers are spread across devices so group members have to work collaboratively) and independent quizzes. Matt describes the tools place as part of a wider set of retrieval opportunities he creates for his pupils to consolidate their learning in and out of the classroom.

The tool used by Matt is:

  • Quizlet – An online flashcard and interactive quizzing tool

Whilst Matt makes use of iPads, consider what might enable you to achieve similar in your own context if you don’t have a 1-1 iPad scheme.

If you choose to focus on this case study as part of this week’s learning, you can share any initial reflections and questions with the course community in the comments space below.
  • How might these approaches be applied in your own context to solve a challenge you’ve identified?
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