Op-Ed, Written by: Michael Snead, recently named ‘Teacher of the Year’ at Barton Middle School in Buda, Texas
All across the education field, teachers are always trying to find ways for students to be successful in school. In a normal classroom, you typically have students that are from all walks of life: rich, poor, special ed, hardworking, students giving no effort, and even more in between. Meeting the needs of all students and to get all students to be successful at the same time can be a challenge even for the most seasoned educator.
As a special education teacher, I work with all types of students in the classroom, however, my main focus is on students with special needs. My students were always doing decent in class but would struggle on every exam they took. It was heartbreaking to see my students struggle and I could see how it lowered their self-esteem. I made it my goal to find a something that would allow my students to have a fighting chance at passing the exams they were required to take. Every unit I would try a new tool — a new program, play a new game, etc. until I found one that worked. It took me almost half the year to find Quizlet and since then I have not needed to find anything else.
Quizlet offers a suite of learning tools that help students practice and master what they’re learning. Available for both desktop computers and tablets, it allows students to study using a variety of applications including flashcards, games, a self-test mode, and more.
Smiles, tears, and thankfulness are what my students and their parents have, thanks to the success they see with Quizlet. Students that qualify for a resource class are getting the top grades on the test in a regular class and it is their first real success in school. Students that have never had success before are now leading class discussion and even small group. This is the first time in my teaching career that I cannot tell the Special Education students from everyone else either in class or in the grade book.
Not only is Quizlet great for special education students, but it works well for all students in my class. After last year’s success, this year my department started using Quizlet from the beginning of the year. Before a unit even starts, Students are accessing each study set early and are learning it. This pre-studying has contributed to enhancing classroom discussion and allowed for our classes to even dig deeper into the material. And, with the discussion and rigor increasing in class it is showing up on our benchmark tests.
The district I work in has benchmark tests every nine weeks and the data proves how well Quizlet is working. After our first benchmark, my school was performing a little better than our district. The students did not fully buy into Quizlet yet, so this was our baseline data on the effectiveness of Quizlet. By the time the second and third benchmark scores came out, our students fully have bought into Quizlet. Across the three grades studying with Quizlet, scores were about 20% to 30% higher than the rest of the district. We did so well, in fact, that my district came to our department seeking out what we were doing and wondering if we even cheated on this test, since no school has ever had this much of a gap and they were confused. Of the 700 students who took the benchmark exam, we over 450 students use our website that is linked to the Quizlet study sets for the second benchmark and over 375 for the third, and we know many more are studying on Quizlet on their own.
For students to have this success, it is not something you can do last minute. As a department we have strived to get a Quizlet review out as soon as we know when the date of the test. In some classes, we have the reviews ready when we start the new unit, as this gives students enough time to prepare for the exam. Students need repetition and various ways to see the material to be successful. With Quizlet, my students will start with the flashcard and then move onto the matching game and the other tools Quizlet has created. Lastly, the day before our test, we have the students take a practice test through Quizlet.
Quizlet has made my life as a teacher easier and the success of my student greater than I could have ever done on my own. However, Quizlet by itself is not enough; the teachers have to buy in as well as the students. Once the teachers and students buy into it and then experience the success, then the sky’s the limit on what can be achieved by everyone. One of my students says it the best: “When there is a will there’s a way. When there is a Quizlet, there is an A!”