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Teaching Writing Descriptive Text Using Flash Card

Flash cards are a classic teaching strategy. According to Brown et. al. (1983), flash cards can be in the form of photographs, drawings, or pictures cut from magazine, and newspapers. For a language instruction, drawings or pictures are not necessarily the work of art. The picture or drawing  will be effective if they are used in the flash card. The picture in the flash card should be big enough, interesting, and clear for students to see. If the pictures are not big enough, not interesting, and not clear, the students will get confused to describe the pictures. The pictures can make students’ imagination deviate from what they are expected to produce. To avoid this, a teacher must follow the above criteria.
In addition to a learning experience, Rice & Nash (2010) state that flash cards make a good self-assessment tool for students. One way to use flash cards in teaching narrative text is through Class-Wide Peer Tutoring (Westwood, 2010). Appropriate target words are selected by the teacher, usually based on a current theme, or an individual needs of the students. Each student works with a compatible partner for 10 minutes, they each take turns to act as “tutor” to help the other student master the word for the day. The first step is for each student to print his or her own target words on a flash card. The tutor then takes the tutee through some sequences: (1) The tutor holds up flash cards and says, “Look at this word. Say the word.”; (2) Close your eyes. Picture one of your classmates in your mind.”; (3) Now, open your eyes and check the person you have just think of; (4) write down the word on your paper; (5) The tutor then checks the written response and corrects any errors; (6) If there is no error, move to the next target word. If an error has been made, go back and repeat steps 1 to 4 again until correct; and (7) In a classroom situation, the teacher can move around to monitor students’ performance and give feedback.
The other way of using flash cards is to use online system (Rice & Nash, 2010). A teacher can use a lesson, as if it is an online deck of flash cards. One advantage of using an online system is that log files tell the teacher if a student completed the flash card activity, and how well the student did. In a flash card lesson, every page will be a question page. In a lesson, a question page can have any content that the teacher can put on a normal web page. So, each page in the teacher’s flash card lesson can consist of a fully-featured web page, with a question at the bottom and some text-only feedback for each answer. When setting the jumps for each answer on the question page (on the card), make sure that a correct answer takes the student to the next page and an incorrect answer keeps them on the same page. Again, this duplicates our physical experiences with flash cards. When we get the correct answer, we move on to the next card. When we get the wrong answer, we try again until we have got right. A teacher can use a slide show setting to display the lesson in separate window, and make that window the size of a flash card. This can help create the effect of a deck of cards.

Brown, J. W. Lewis, R. B. And Harcleroad, F.F. 1983. Audio Visual Instruction. New York: McGraw Hill.
Rice, W. & Nash, S. S. 2010. Moodle 1.9 Teaching Techniques. Birmingham: PACKT Publishing.
Westwood, P. 2010. Spelling: Approaches to Teaching and Assessment. Victoria: Acer Press.


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