Digital Flash Cards for the Classroom
Flash cards are an indispensable tool for studying lesson material. Languages, sciences, maths, …, you can find flash cards for almost any subject.
Digital flash cards allow you to quickly create your own deck of cards for your class, without wasting time or paper on printing the actual cards. They’re also versatile in how you can employ them: you can hand them out as an aid for studying the hard-to-remember parts of your lessons, use them as an extra for early finishers in your class, or even as a classroom activity on a smartboard to chorally drill words. On top of all this, there are some things you can do with digital flash cards that you can’t do with the physical ones.
In this blog post, I’ll show some examples of digital flash cards, and what you can do with them.
A basic flash card has 2 sides: a front side with a question, and a back side with the answer. A learner goes through their deck of flash cards, answers the questions on the front side, and verifies the answers on the back of the cards.
The question can take different forms. The most straightforward flash cards have both the question and the answer as text on each side. For example, when learning about World War II in history class, students can use a deck of flash cards to study different names and events:
When words don’t cut it, you can also use pictures as questions. This is handy if the question is about something visual such as a photograph or drawing, or can be useful as an aid to support the question. For example, when studying geometry in math class, instead of simply asking for the area and volume of a specific shape, you can draw the object and the components of its formula on the front side, and put the mathematical formula on the back:
When the student’s done going through the decks at their own pace, they can go into practice mode (also known as cram mode), where only the cards that haven’t been mastered yet are repeated over and over again.
Using Pictures for Memorability
Pictures aren’t only useful on the front side of flash cards. Because of the Picture superiority effect, adding pictures next to the textual answer helps in memorizing the answer. This can especially useful when learning foreign vocabulary:
Pictures on the back of flash cards can also have other uses. For example, you can create a deck of flash cards with sight words for the youngest to learn to read; when they read the word, they can flip the card to get a picture of what they just read, both as confirmation and as a reward for getting it right:
Learning Languages: Comprehension vs Production
There are 2 aspects to learning a language: understanding the words (comprehension), and being able to use them (production). Not only can flash cards be used for learning both, you can often reuse the same deck of cards for both comprehension and production.
For learning comprehension, you can create a deck of cards with words on the front, and the associated pictures on the back of the card. For example, when learning french:
Going through this deck of cards helps students learn the translation of the word, and build associations between the word and its meaning. These associations will then come back to them when they are reading the word in a piece of text, or hearing the word in a conversation.
For learning production, all you have to do is to flip all the cards in the deck. In the widget above, you can do this by clicking on the ‘Front first / back first’ button. In this mode, your students learn to recall the translation and spelling of a word, training the ability to use these words in conversations or sentences.
Adding a third side
As in the real world, a typical digital flash card has two sides you can flip between. However, with digital flash cards, you can add an extra side, and create create Three-sided cards. The extra ‘side’ is another piece of information you can flip. This can be different things:
- A piece of sound: When the student clicks the card, they hear a piece of sound. This is typically used for studying vocabulary, where you get the word on one side, the meaning (or translation) on the other, and the pronunciation as a sound bite they can play. This can also be applied for learning other topics, as a help for more auditory-oriented learners.
- A textual hint: Especially in the initial stages when learning, you want to offer your students pieces of help to get the answer, without revealing the answer itself. For this, you can add hints to the front side of the flash card.
Creating your own Flash Cards
There are many websites on the web that allow you to create your own flash cards. BookWidgets of course has its own Flash Cards widget, which allows you to quickly create flash cards and send them to your students (together with many other widget types).
If you want to find out how to create your own interactive Flash Cards with BookWidgets, just have a look at this simple step-by-step tutorial:
Ready to give it a shot? Just hit the button below, sign up, and start creating Flash Cards widgets (and many other widget types) with a free BookWidgets trial.