Thing 29 – Student Response Tools

Thing 29 – Student Response Tools

I love student response tools! I’ll try anything that engages students beyond paper and pencil. I’ve always used a lot of physical response cues, such as thumbs up, thumbs down, voting with your fingers, hold up a colored card, etc., so when technology came along with new tools for this task I was delighted.

My first foray into technological student response systems involved the SMART Response “clickers.” At the time, these were considered the greatest thing, but there were only so many sets per building and the people who had them weren’t inclined to share. I tried them for a few lessons but the amount of set up required wasn’t worth it for a tool that I had to beg, borrow, and steal from sympathetic colleagues so they got a thumbs down.

Actually, I suppose my FIRST foray in technology based student response was SurveyMonkey, which I first used years ago to perform and end of year survey of my students. At first I didn’t really think of online surveys and forms as student response systems because they are performing a function that could just as easily be performed with paper and pencil. But then I remembered the delightful way that these online forms aggregate data. Grading is done in a snap. I use Google forms for voting for all kinds of things in my library and it totally beats the heck out counting hundreds of slips of paper.

I tested plickers in a PD class and I definitely see the potential. We were in a good sized classroom with several rows of tables. I was afraid my phone wouldn’t be able to scan the plicker cards that were in the back of the room, but it did! I like that it is minimally tech dependent. I’ve had so many technology failures this year, that, to be honest, I’ve backed off from using a lot of it. The wonderful thing about plickers is that the kids can’t look around and see how their peers are voting. This is a real problem with the physical cue strategy that I tend to rely on. With plickers, when they look around, all they see are QR codes. The downside was the speed (or lack thereof) of the scanning. It takes about a second to scan each card, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have roomful of restless kids 20 seconds can seem like an eternity. I look forward to integrating Plickers a lot more frequently next year. I think it will offer a great way to assess learning as we go, particularly after I take the time to assign each child as specific plicker number.

I tried to set up a Primary Wall account to compare it to Padlet, which I had set up awhile ago, but I kept getting error messages. I love the idea of a place where kids can leave me a virtual sticky note, but I’m not so sure about the reality of putting it into practice. The problem is getting kids to actually go to the website to add their note. There are so many things vying for their attention, as well as mine, that this particular tool, will probably simmer on the back burner for awhile.

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