Get Out the Vote
Audience-response systems give teachers immediate feedback about their students' knowledge.
Name: Tim Davis, professional development specialist
District: Saginaw (MI) Intermediate School District
What we use: TurningPoint Audience Response System (www.turningtechnologies.com)
How my district uses it: I have used response pads for town meetings to gather anonymous answers to questions and have used them while teaching university classes to showcase the technology and gather data on whatever topic I happen to be covering. I’ve also been in classrooms where the teacher used response pads to take attendance, count lunch, and accumulate formative data on student progress.
Why I like it: I believe response pads are the next generation of assessment tools and will allow every student to achieve success. You can pinpoint various weaknesses, student by student, and provide individualized help based on the data. You can give pretests to see what students understand, then cover concepts accordingly. This makes the response pads amazing teaching tools.
What I wish it would do: While it meets all my needs, I know that some teachers use the response pads just for games. In these cases, students do not take them seriously, and the devices can lose some effectiveness.
Name: Virginia R. McGraw, principal
School: J.P. Ryon Elementary School (Waldorf, Maryland)
What we use: Interwrite SchoolBoard and PRS clicker system (www.interwritelearning.com)
How my school uses it: The teachers use the system for whole-group instruction, to access the Internet, and as a center for independent work during guided reading groups. Teachers also use it for grading.
Why I like it: All students can be in the moment and respond at the same time. Also, the devices are helping the children become much savvier technologically.
What I wish it would do: The only small drawback is the time spent creating lessons that include the devices. But some lesson plans are included for a number of content areas.
Name: Phyllis Kohel, principal
School: Milford High School (Milford, Delaware)
What we use: Renaissance 2Know! Classroom Response System (www.renlearn.com)
How my school uses it: We use the wireless response system to engage students, get instant feedback, evaluate student understanding, and save teachers time in grading.
Why I like it: The responders create a situation in which there is always 100 percent class participation. Also, because no one else knows who is answering a question in a particular way, students are not afraid to guess.
What I wish it would do: We would like the responders to handle a higher level of math. But, thus far, the benefits far outweigh any complains.
Name: Dana Gonzalez, assistant superintendent
District: New Orleans Public Schools
What we use: Qwizdom Student Response System (www.qwizdom.com)
How my district uses it: We use it for quarterly testing and chapter tests. The system gives the teacher assessment data faster than any other method. Once students enter their responses, we can create an item-analysis report for their classes. We then determine the specific interventions needed.
Why I like it: It saves teachers time by providing assessment data quickly. Response pads also offer a new view into student understanding. The teacher no longer has to guess what her class knows.
What I wish it would do: I wish the training were easier, but I believe in "effort in = effort out." Our teachers think it's worth the training hours because the system has so much functionality.
Name: David Haglund, instructional specialist, technology
District: Riverside (CA) Unified School District
What we use: Activote (www.prometheanworld.com)
How my district uses it: The focus at Riverside is to monitor student learning midstream, making corrections as we go. Our teachers develop interventions and differentiate instruction by assessing student knowledge.
Why I like it: Its functionality is tied to the Active Studio software’s quizmaster [the software that generates questions]. It allow us to incorporate images, video, and audio clips, which is especially great for our ESL students.
What I wish it would do: My wish would be to see one product that provides input to the interactive whiteboard, acts as a response system, and supports teaching keyboarding.