Friday, July 3, 2009

Just A Click Away: Instant Student Response

Imagine teaching a lesson, asking a question, getting an individual response from all students, and being able to have a record of all those responses! With clickers in the classroom, all students are participants, and engagement in the lesson increases.
Here is an example. A teacher presents a math lesson in her fourth grade class. Her PowerPoint slide poses a question. “What fraction is represented by the shaded part shown on a grid?” With clickers, all students input their answers. The responses are instantly displayed on a color-coded chart the teacher views.
The teacher knows immediately if she needs to review a concept and where her students stand on understanding concepts being presented.
As we all know, in the old-fashioned system, only some students were inclined to raise hands to answer a question. Even though a quiz can tell who understands a concept, with clicker input the teacher can carry on the lesson and have responses ready at hand. Clickers also ensure all students are participating and actively engaged.
In an environment in which students are accustomed to mobile technology, use of clickers in the classroom and other mobile technologies is just on the horizon. We can expect to see more use of mobile technologies, including cell phones for texting answers, in the schools, and schools will need to revisit their cell phone banning policies.
For now, clickers work best in situations where multiple choice and similar kinds of responses, such as yes-no-maybe, are required. They won’t necessarily result in lively, in-depth class discussions, but they do enable teachers to gauge how students are doing and help to keep students actively engaged. To date, they have been mostly used in math and science classes, but are finding applicability to social studies and other disciplines. Though initially used in large lecture classrooms in colleges, they are now increasingly finding their way into elementary and secondary classrooms. Time will tell if their use becomes widespread, but so far, they have already been linked to higher test scores. For instance, a Digital Directions’ article reports of one Colorado school system: “After a pilot study of middle school math classes found a test-score bump for students who used clickers in well-planned lessons, the Boulder Valley district bought sets of the devices for all math and science classes in its 12 middle schools and began yearlong training for teachers.”
Information for this post was taken from Digital Dimensions’ article,
“Student Response Systems Provide Instant Classroom Feedback” (June 2009), by Kathleen Kennedy Manzo.
To watch a video about how clickers are being used in one class, check out this USA Today video that aired on network news: Classroom Clickers Grab Students' Attention
Post comments, please.

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