Responsive Solutions

11/3/2011 By:

With all the talk about assessment these days, it’s even more important for teachers to be able to know how their students are doing. Student response systems, a.k.a. SRSs, are one way for this to become a reality. These handheld devices, also called clickers—which enable students to answer questions, take tests, vote, and more instantly—have quickly become the technology teachers say they can’t work without.

eInstruction
www.einstruction.com

How long has your district been using SRSs?

About five years, says Christie Turbeville, technology integration specialist at Bullitt County Public Schools in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Today there are eInstruction CPS systems throughout the district, particularly in the elementary schools, which Turbeville says have the greatest need for immediate assessment and feedback.

Was it easy for teachers to learn to use them?

“It was. There was a learning curve, and we did a lot of training on how to use them and what the benefits are. Once they were aware of how it could be used, it took off like wildfire. They wanted training, so we go to their classrooms and model.”

Has it changed the way your district approaches assessment?

“It’s made our teachers’ jobs more efficient. Paper and pencil required a constant back-andforth, and they couldn’t use the information. Now they see the assessment firsthand and can go over mistakes immediately. They can differentiate the instruction. Our teachers feel that instruction is better because of these tools.”

What’s best about this SRS?

“What I like best is the immediate feedback and common assessment. In the past, teachers had no way to know if kids understood. These clickers work with everything from Compass Learning to BrainPOP to Study Island.”

What would you most like to change about it?

“I want to tell the company to stop updating the software so much! We get the teachers used to them and then take them away to update software, and the teachers go crazy. If they could do updates in the summer or on breaks, that would be wonderful. Otherwise, we love them.”

Promethean
www.prometheanworld.com

How long has your district been using SRSs?

“We’ve had SRSs for about eight years and Promethean ActivExpression for the past six,” says Judy T. Christopher, a staff development instructor at Henrico County Public Schools in Henrico, Virginia. “We’re getting teachers to use them to gauge their own instruction, figure out how to cover material differently, and reteach when necessary.”

Was it easy for teachers to learn to use them?

“The original ones were harder, but the Promethean ones work a lot better,” Christopher says. “Teachers who are more hesitant with technology or less apt to try it need more hand-holding; the others really take off. And the kids enjoy it.”

Has it changed the way your district approaches assessment?

“For those who are using them, it’s changed tenfold. You know right on the spot; there’s no going home, grading papers, and then seeing the kids two days later. By getting real-time data, our teachers are seeing improved test scores and being more effective at pinpointing those who need remediation or are ready to move on.”

What’s best about this SRS?

Christopher likes it that ActivExpression permits text entry, which broadens results. “Teachers aren’t limited to multiple-choice questions. They can give open-ended questions, which elicit more information. It’s more elaborate than what you can do with multiple choice.”

What would you most like to change about it?

“The couple of things I want—having an unlimited amount of graphics that will feed into the device and an equation editor—are things the company is already working on. We always want what we don’t have!”

Qwizdom
www.qwizdom.com

How long has your district been using SRSs?

“We’ve used SRSs for four years, but it’s our second year with Qwizdom,” says Robin Huggins, director of technology at Carmi-White County Community Unit School District #5 in Carmi, Illinois. “We have at least 32 full sets of Qwizdom Audience Response Systems being used by third graders and up, through high school.”

Was it easy for teachers to learn to use them?

A Qwizdom employee did training on the first day of school and in late October, Huggins says, after teachers had the systems installed and activated. “Teachers were able to apply what they learned right away. At the district level, implementation was easy as well.”

Has it changed the way your district approaches assessment?

“Yes. I’ve heard from several teachers that the instant feedback, for formative assessment, is excellent. If students aren’t getting something, the teachers can postpone the test. The kids love using the technology. It’s engaging, and everyone loves the tactile, hands-on modality.”

What’s best about this SRS?

Huggins likes the company’s Premium Content Licensing, which gives teachers access to online material and assessments correlated to state standards for $89 for a 12-month subscription. “You can put in the exact standard and objective and it brings up a lesson, or you can search by grade level or content. If you know you’re teaching a particular standard, you can get some quick materials and premade lessons.”

What would you most like to change about it?

“The only thing missing, which other SRSs let you do, is [the ability to] import ExamView, which comes with several textbooks and includes premade questions and answers.”

SMART
smarttech.com

How long has your district been using SRSs?

“We’ve had them for three years, starting with a small number of teachers and systems,” says Michelle Barber, instructional technologist at Tomball Independent School District in Tomball, Texas. “This summer we expanded to more than 40 systems and did training.”

Was it easy for teachers to learn to use them?

The first round of teachers learned to use the SRSs on their own, according to Liz Grant, instructional technologist for the district. “We require teachers to attend an initial three-hour training before using,” she says, “and we have them use the SRS so they learn by doing.”

Has it changed the way your district approaches assessment?

Because of statewide changes, the district is revamping assessment. The goal is for teachers to use their SRSs with common assessments throughout the year so they can assess their results immediately. “Our goal for this year is to get common assessments onto the response systems and into SMART Notebook,” Barber says.

What’s best about this SRS?

“We didn’t want teachers to have to learn a new program, and the SRSs integrate with SMART Notebook, which lets teachers run reports and analyze results,” Barber says. She also appreciates that SMART Response can time how quickly a student enters a response. “With SMART Notebook software, teachers can import questions from their textbooks or ExamPro,” Grant says.

What would you most like to change about it?

“The cost,” Barber says. “SMART is good at listening to teachers about what they want and need and at making changes. But right now, because of the economy, it is quite costly. We’d have liked to have one set for every teacher, but we can’t do that. We’ll have to share.”

More SRSs

Califone Got It! Student Response System
www.califone.com

Dukane Convey Student Response System
www.conveyclassrooms.com/student-response.html

i>clicker
www.iclicker.com

iRespond UltraLite, Lite, and Touch
www.irespond.com

MimioVote Assessment System
www.mimio.dymo.com

QOMO Audience Response System
www.qomo.com

Renaissance Learning 2Know!
www.renlearn.com

TurningPoint Student Response Solutions
www.turningtechnologies.com

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