Ed. note: This post is the first in a series written by teachers using StudyBlue with their classes. Today, we’re honored to introduce Samantha Ritt, a French and Spanish teacher at The Webb School in Knoxville, TN.
As a foreign language instructor, I have always been a big fan of using flash cards to learn Spanish and French vocabulary through memorization exercises and games in class.
Before the technology director at the Webb School of Knoxville shared with me the valuable features of the StudyBlue website last October, I had been requiring my students to create traditional flash cards by writing the vocabulary words on white index cards from the bookstore. This was the only way I knew to ensure students would write down the vocabulary words at least once rather than just read them from the textbook. I also thought that by creating these flash cards, it would encourage them to continue to use the cards as a study tool. However, my thinking was often wishful, and the majority of my students dreaded the “tarjetas de vocabulario” (vocabulary flash cards) assignment that I would assign at the beginning of each new chapter. Some students even threw out their flash cards in the trash afterwards because they had only created the cards to earn the homework assignment points.
“My students get excited about creating and using the flashcards on the StudyBlue website rather than dreading it like when they created traditional flash cards with pen and paper.”
Then, when I introduced the StudyBlue website to my students last fall and told them their homework assignment would now be to study the vocabulary flash cards that I posted on the StudyBlue website and to use the StudyBlue app on their smartphones, they became excited with this different way of using flash cards. The students all signed up immediately, and many of them began using the StudyBlue app on their smartphones to test themselves on their Spanish vocabulary. For example, the StudyBlue app was very useful when our high school football team advanced to the State Title game in December, and the students needed to study for a Spanish quiz the following day. The students made the trip to Nashville for this game on a school night, and many were able to study the vocabulary using the StudyBlue app on their cell phones while riding the buses to the game and back in order to prepare for the vocabulary quiz the next day. They all ended up doing very well on the quiz just by using the StudyBlue app on their phones, and they were still able to enjoy the football game 3 hours away the night before.
Now, typing the vocabulary terms into StudyBlue — with the correct spelling — has become the standard homework assignment for each student for each chapter. My students get excited about creating and using the flashcards on the StudyBlue website rather than dreading it like when they created traditional flash cards with pen and paper. I also like the feature that these flashcards on StudyBlue will test your pronunciation of each vocabulary term if you choose to do so. A student testing himself or herself individually on the Spanish vocabulary can’t necessarily determine if he or she correctly pronounced the vocabulary term. This audio capability is a wonderful feature StudyBlue.
Overall, I am extremely happy there is a resource like StudyBlue available online and as an app on smartphones. My students still get excited about using it every time we dive into a new vocabulary section. I am excited, just as my students are, to use StudyBlue on a daily basis to expand our Spanish vocabulary and have fun doing it.
Questions for Samantha? Comments about your own experiences? Please post to the comments section, below.