Hacking Quizlet to make good reading activities

A reading activity that would impress administrators

On Monday we were chatting about our weekend and a story surged forth about a girl who went to Disneyland with a classmate. Today I had a pair of artists work to create a poster while the rest of the class and I reworked the story into a fantasy-zombie-Disney story. By the end of the class we had a decent story up on Textivate (if you have a Textivate subscription you can search our story in the “Public Resources” section using the keyword Mirabella.

After school I brought in one of my colleagues and we filmed ourselves reading the story with the poster between us. My plan is to play the video retell tomorrow and then follow up with a game of Quizlet Live using a quizlet set that I created from the story.

To make this into an effective reading activity (rather than a vocabulary list) I took the story and split each sentence in half, so that one side logically leads to the next. I uploaded it as a Quizlet vocabulary list so that is looks like this:

Tomorrow when I log into Quizlet Live the students will play on their cell phones, matching the first part of the sentence with the second half. It is a quick 10 minute small group activity that administrators love to see because students are working together in small groups, they are laughing and involved in the activity and it appears to be very student-centered. Of course, I know that real conversations with my students are a much more efficient use of class time. Nonetheless this is a decent 10 minute activity that draws students in, impresses administrators, gives me a short break and then allows me to spend the rest of my class constructing stories… which I think is the best use of class time.

Bonus: I can pull this sequence out again in a couple of weeks on a day when I need a bailout move. This is wonderful review and easily buys me 15 minutes to reconstruct my lesson plans.


  1. I love this! I and I hate it! I hate that we, teachers, have to come up with stuff to make Administrators happy. It really should be the other way around- Administrators finding ways to make teachers happy. Why has our profession gotten to this point where we are not the professionals and are not trusted to do what we know is best for our kids?

  2. Love this post…Question about the Quizlet format…doesn’t the stuff entered on the right hand column (the “definitions”) come up on the cell phones….that is, shouldn’t the first part of the sentence be entered on the right and the second half on the left for it to work for Quizlet live? I’ve done this with questions and answers, and I always put the questions on the right hand side, so the students see the question and have to choose the appropriate answer. …or did you have the students play where they are looking at the end of the sentence and had to figure out what came before?

    1. Huh! You can see in the picture that my Quizlet list is a simple sentence split in half. I don’t actually have a smart phone, so I never tested it myself and the kids just figured it out on their own. It was fun & quick, and students often asked for it as a brain break, so whatever I did was not too traumatic! 🙂

  3. This blog post came at the perfect time! During my prep, I was trying to come up with a short reading activity and this fit the bill perfectly. Easy to create, and I think my students will enjoy it, too. Maybe I´ll work it into my formal observation later this month. Thanks!

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