Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clickers in the Classroom

A new gimmick has entered the classroom: clickers. Students use handheld remote devices and respond to questions that flash on a screen. The technology automatically records their responses.

A physics teacher from Great Neck, New York, praised the device in a story that ran in The New York Times this past Monday. The article notes that the Great Neck school district invested in the clickers to enliven the traditional classroom setting and to make learning more interactive for students. Students clicking away at a screen when practice quiz questions pop up or to input data on Excel spreadsheets. The device accommodates the student with excellent hand-eye coordination, but what about the one who needs extra time to process information and respond? A poll of students in the physics class revealed all but one favored the technology. The Great Neck schools expanded the use of the clickers to several other schools in the district after piloting the devices in high school classes.
The clickers are part of new wave of technology tools known as audience response systems, which are making inroads in school settings. The Times reports that Los Angeles schools have spent more than half a million dollars to bring clickers to school classrooms. Dallas, Atlanta, and New York City schools have followed suit. In St. Paul, participants at administrative, teacher, an parent meetings use the device to give their responses.

One of the companies manufacturing the device, Qwizdom, claims it has sold more than 750,000 clickers to schools. Users hold the wireless device and input a response, which is sent to a computer program. The program displays the results and keeps records of what is inputted. Teachers like the device because they can check on the progress of every student, “not just those who raise their hands,” according to one teacher interviewed for the Times.

What is your response to introducing this kind of technology in the classroom? How do you feel about placing remote control technology into the hands of students in the school setting? Here is the URL for the Qwizdom website to learn more one company's version of the product.

Picture from the New York Times article, photographer Joyce Dopkeen, and information taken from the article written by Winnie Hu, “Students Click, and Quiz Becomes a Game,” January 28, 2008, accessible:,%202008&st=nyt&scp=1

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Internet and Literacy

Much has been written of late about the Internet’s effect on literacy. Dennis Baron, a world renowned linguist and a professor of English at University of Illinois, maintains a blog Web of Language. On this blog, he recently posted the following, which I quote nearly verbatim, and then invite you to read the full blog at this URL: L

Baron begins with the provocative titles, “Is the internet killing literacy, or pumping new life into it?”

He continues, “Every year there’s a sky-is-falling warning about the death of literacy in America. A 2007 poll found that 27% of American adults hadn’t read a book in a year. More recently, Caleb Crain, writing in the New Yorker, cites a worldwide drop-off in reading on the order of the shrinking of the polar ice caps. Crain documents a 50% decline in American newspaper readership since 1970 and flat book sales, all of which foreshadow a world where fewer readers means fewer thinkers, fewer voters, and far less objectivity."

Baron further notes that Steve Job, the guru of Apple computers is not all that disappointed by this decline, writing: “Steve Jobs rejected a suggestion that Amazon’s hot new e-book reader, the oddly-named Kindle, which sold out the day it went on sale, might eat into the iPod’s market, because – according to Jobs – 40% of Americans don’t read books, and for him fewer readers apparently equals more listeners and viewers.”

On the other hand, Baron is quick to let us know, Crain of the New York “even cites a Michigan State University study showing that children can improve their reading by going online for as little as half an hour a day, whether they surf to gather information or they’re just chatting with friends....But Crain also warns that the ‘synergies’ between surfing and reading will disappear as the popularity of YouTube moves the web away from text toward television.”

Summarizing Crain further, Baron comments: “ activities involve text, but...that computer literacy isn’t really literacy....Email or IM are simply ways to make text approximate speech, producing a kind of ‘secondary orality’ – a term made popular by Walter Ong that indicates a kind of modern move to recapture ancient oral culture – something almost tribal, rather than truly literate behavior (if taken to its extreme, such a view applied to drama, a literary art devoted to the approximation of speech, could push Shakespeare and Eugene O’Neill into the world of soap opera)....”

Feel free to read the full post using the URL provided or simply to comment on what is excerpted here to provide your own response about how Internet use if affecting literacy as well at the implication for those of us who are teaching and aspire to teach literacy everyday.
Photo is of Dennis Baron and is from his Web of Language site.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Growing Up Online

On Tuesday night, January 22, 2008, “Frontline” featured a provocative documentary on our youth’s addiction to cyberspace. Most upsetting were features of one young boy who committed suicide after experiencing cyberbullying and gaining access to sites on ways to commit suicide, a young female teen with an eating disorder who fixated on feeding her disorder by reading online blogs and starvation sites, and teens who openly exposed their reckless behavior through YouTube videos and Facebook and MySpace profiles. If you missed this special, here is a link to the PBS website with more information:

If your time is limited, at least click on the link found at the PBS site to read the “Introduction” about the show and to get a glimpse of what the program covered. The photo included with this blog is from the website featuring information on the program.

Please post your comment on teens’ addictions to the world of cyberspace and online communications as well as any responses to the PBS web recaps or the program itself if you caught it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Useful Website for Teachers

Kathy Schrock has long maintained a website chock full of resources for teachers interested in integrating computer technology into their teaching. Her site covers a range of disciplines and grade levels as well as issues related to the use of computers in general. Check the link below to access her site, and explore freely. Please return, however, to this blog to comment on what you found useful about her site.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

SJC Opens New Technology Classroom

If you have not heard, we have opened a new demonstration classroom which includes a Smartboard in Lynch Hall, the building that houses the education program. Your thoughts on using Smartboards are appreciated. Please post comments. If you have not used a Smartboard, spend some time investigating its uses online and post a comment about your reponse. Image from: