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Memrise in the classroom

There was a surge of emails and tweets in response to my post a couple of weeks back asking how teachers were using Memrise and how it could be made more useful. Thank you all!

I want to open up the discussion around teacher’s experiences and how we think that these can help shape our future product developments. Please do get involved and let us know what you think!

Today I’d like to look at some feedback from a Business and Economics teacher who got in touch with some very insightful and illuminating ideas. Here is what Caroline Creaby (@CarolineCreaby) told us:

“I started using Memrise when my Year 11 end of unit test results we beginning to depress me. Their technique and writing style was coming along nicely but their lack of revision of key terms and concepts was limiting their ability to recall definitions and explain concepts accurately.

I created a course on Memrise for the Year 11 unit I was teaching (Edexcel GCSE Business and Economics Unit 5). The unit is made up of 5 topics so I created 5 ‘Levels’ within the Memrise course, one for each topic.

I populated the levels with key terms and definitions which I typed in. This took a few hours but I see it as a very worthwhile investment as I will be using it for next year’s group as well. Since creating it, I have used it in two main ways:

  • Home learning: I have set students home learning to revise using the Memrise website. It is so easy to monitor use and I like the weekly/monthly/all time leagues as it shows me which students have been using it consistently, rather than just for intensive one-off revision. I have a Twitter account (@buseconteachers) which students follow and I tweet the names of top users of the course to encourage use. Next year, I intend to get students to learn terms before I teach topics to enable me to focus on higher level skills in the lesson, what we call ‘flipping’ at my school.

  • Plenary activities: I have logged in, projected Memrise on the board and nominated students to play Memrise with or without the support of their group or the whole class. This reinforces learning from the lesson and is useful before a test. If there is access to a computer room, all students can be logged on and make progress on their own accounts.

The students’ reaction has been extremely positive. In surveys of my students and those in a fellow teacher’s PE classes, students unanimously enjoy the competitive nature of Memrise and genuinely enjoy using it. Up until using Memrise, I had struggled to find any homework activity which students genuinely enjoyed and wanted to do.

In class, I have noticed their increasing confidence in using key terms verbally in class and making links between topics. I suspect this confidence comes from the familiarly having seen key terms them over and over again when using Memrise.

In terms of impact on outcomes, students’ results have improved since I introduced Memrise. Marking tests revealed a much better understanding of concepts and more precise definitions when the question required one.

I have since created Memrise courses for most of the modules I teach at GCSE and A Level. There are of course plenty of courses already on Memrise for GCSE and A Level courses so it’s definitely worth searching before creating a course form scratch as another teacher may have already made one. And of course, you may want to encourage your students to create courses – they will certainly benefit from typing in all the required key terms!”

This was extremely encouraging to hear. It sparked off countless trains of thought. Here are a few things leap out at me while reading this – please do add your own comments and responses below!:

  • It is a total delight to hear that Memrise is being used so imaginatively and effectively to teach subjects outside the realm of language vocabulary. That was always our aim, and seeing early adopters like Caroline leading the charge and getting stuck in already is a big motivator for us.

  • I love that Caroline is using the levels of the courses to match each week of homework or unit in the course. Again, it was very much our intention that the courses could be used in that way, and it is a pleasure to see that they are!

  • “flipping” the classroom seems like an excellent way to use a site like Memrise. It will be even more effective once the mobile app is released (soon, I promise!) when the kids can really learn any time.

  • interesting to note that Caroline is keen to see specifically who is using the site consistently, rather than look specifically at levels of achievement. This could give us a pointer with regard to future metrics. Which other student metrics would be most helpful to see?

  • It is very pleasing to hear that learning these key terms seems to have helped students ability to engage with the topics and make links between them. Knowing the right words can be a real hurdle to engaging with a topic even if the concepts themselves are understood; if Memrise can help lower (or remove!) that hurdle, that is great news!

  • I am very interested to hear how you get on with teaching the key terms before starting to teach the topic, and if and how that effects their learning. Exciting developments!

A big thank you to Caroline for these thoughts, and again, please do tell us what you think in the comments section!

Discussion

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