March 15, 2014

Personal response device "clicker" has more uses in the classroom

•by Randy Carlsen

The clicker, a personal response device, has been in use in the K-M school system for a few years. Now staff, including middle school math teacher Amy Wix, are finding more uses for the clicker that allow students to become more engaged in the classroom and receive immediate feedback on their understanding of new concepts.

Amy Wix writes a test of eight questions on the computer that takes her five minutes to set up. Students are assigned a Senteo (clicker) and log in with an ID and validate their identity. Questions show on the Smartboard and students take about 10 minutes to complete the quiz. "I can see who is logged in and know when they are all finished," said Wix.

Test results show up immediately on a graph on the teacher's computer screen. The graph shows which concepts students have mastered and which concepts need more work. Then Amy reviews the concepts the class needs more time for explanation and practice. "This is one way of evaluating me, too," said Wix. "Maybe it was not a good question or students did not understand the material." It's important to write good questions and to be able to use the information for follow-up lessons.

By the time students go over each question with the teacher they have a better comprehension of the concept and how they derived that answer. This technology can be used for informative assessments and comprehension. The clicker is also a way of encouraging participation, and providing immediate feedback to both the teacher and the students.

The clicker can be used in any subject area and Amy Wix insists it is a motivational tool for the students as well as the teacher.

What do students like about the clicker? The overwhelming response is, "Makes it easier to take a quiz and we get to see our score right away." Cate Trihey adds, "It's easier to write answers and you don't have to correct a paper." Other answers included, "Easy to operate" and "Other students can't see your score".

Another technology used in the classroom is Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) software. This allows a teacher to put a lesson online. A great deal of information can be placed at one location and the students have easy access at home or school. Moodle can be used in word and math games, for an online quiz or as a discussion forum to name a few examples.

Schoology is another online learning management system that is an extension of the classroom. The instructor posts a topic and students go to the site to find the assignment. Schoology gives the teacher the tools to engage students more efficiently and improve educational effectiveness. What the instructor is essentially doing is providing tools needed to manage an online classroom."I plan to use this resource more because there is so much potential," said Wix.

From the clicker to Moodle and Schoology, students are on board when it comes to using new technology. Students are eager to use technology in the classroom to increase their skills and abilities. As Amy Wix said, "They really take hold and grasp it".

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