Connect when you connect
Holly Haputa, OFLA Professional Development Chair
Spanish Teacher, Avon Lake High School
If you are like me, you are actively using Quizlet, Kahoot, Gimkit, and a host of other websites that turn review and practice into a game for your students. I love watching the engagement, the excitement, the teamwork, and the discussion all of these sites create for students. Last year, as I discovered by logging in myself, the competition and focus go to a whole new level.
The first thing I noticed is the determination to “beat the teacher” raised the focus and concentration of the students. I allow friendly heckling from students who carefully monitor ranks while playing: “Who’s number one now, Señora?” “What’s that, who’s beating the teacher?” Just to keep the friendly banter going, I tease back, “Watch your back, I’m coming for you!” It isn’t about winning for me; it’s the motivation and about how the climate of the classroom changes when I am part of the activity.
The second benefit of engaging with students was the informal observation and assessment I am able to do. Within about 5 rounds of Quizlet live as a participant, I can work with every student and see who is struggling with what, who is studying, and address questions or issues. In about 10 minutes, I know exactly where each student is with content. I can make gentle suggestions to improve, find out what study habits they practice, and explain to my high performers the reasoning behind language structures. During the game, students can ask me random questions, “Why did the guy on the video sound like he has a lisp?” “Why do all the school kids in the videos wear uniforms?” “Why do all Spanish speakers sound like they talk so fast?”
Do I always join into the game? No; sometimes it doesn’t work out. But at least once a week I jump in unannounced. My discipline issues in all levels have decreased, my understanding of students’ weaknesses and strengths has increased, and it quickly connects me personally with each student. Give it a try and let me know what happens when you get in the game!