Our school is fortunate enough to have access to interactive whiteboards (SMARTboards), SMART airliner tablets, and a class set of clickers.
If we were going to invest our own personal money into our classroom technology, we would definetely get a class set of clickers over the airliner tablet or interactive whiteboard. No contest. Here’s why.
- What are clickers?
- Examples of places using clickers
- Five ways to engage students using clickers in the classroom
- How to use clickers in your classroom
Clickers look like little tiny remote controls. Each student gets one and you can use them to add interactivity to a lesson and to cut down on the paperwork.
You know those game shows where the audience votes in? Now put that technology into the classroom. They’re easy to use, they provide quick feedback, and they engage students.
Having said that, clickers will never replace a teacher’s professional judgment. Nor will teachers abandon all of their various assessment and evaluation practices that we already use. However, clickers can provide another great tool to your in our classroom.
Some universities are starting to use clickers. For example, UNC has students buy clickers at the campus bookstore. After you’ve bought the clicker, you pay a per-semester course registration clicker fee. (Clickers are registered to your name so when you vote an answer, it’s linked to your name.)
Some school boards are also starting to use clickers. For example, Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) launched a one-year pilot in August 2004.
1. Peer marking.
Students do an activity or performance. Clickers provide an easy way to collect peer assessment marks from the class (instead of having students write down their marks and then you going through and copying the marks onto a class list.)
2. Assessment guiding teacher instruction.
Want to see how well your students understand the lesson? Ask a multiple choice question and you can instantly see how well your students are dong. This allows you to focus on the most popular incorrect answers.
3. Assessment as student feedback.
Give students a multiple choice practice quiz. Hand out questions on paper and then set up the clickers so students can go through the test at their own pace. You can also set up some clickers to provide immediate feedback on whether they got the question right or wrong.
4. Opinion polls.
Voting for something in your class (i.e. class representative)? Clickers can be set up to record the student’s name with their vote, or to keep it anonymous. Show the results in a bar graph.
5. Game show style lessons.
It’s just like a TV game show when the audience members vote in a response.
(This example is taken from a handout we prepared for our staff using eInstruction’s CPS clickers.)
Here’s some information to give you an idea of what’s involved, but you’ll really want to watch the video tutorials which can be found here: http://www.einstruction.com/support_downloads/training/CPS6/K12.html
PART A) Things to do BEFORE your lesson with the students
1. Install the software. You should be able to install the program on your computer just by using the CD which is underneath the clickers in the clicker bag. (You might need to connect your computer physically into the school network.) Plug in the USB receiver into your computer.
2. Set up your classes and assign a clicker to every person. You’ll need to create a database with your classes. You can either type in the information manually, or you can import a CSV file to speed up the process.
Note: The clickers work faster if your database file is saved on your computer’s local drive. You can save the file on your school network or on a USB key, but we found the program lags and the students will complain about how slow it is. (They’ll make comments about lagging.)
You can password protect your database since they contain names and marks. If you want to change the password, click on SETTINGS > PASSWORDS.
3. Create a question. Click the PREPARE link at the top left. Click Lessons & Assessments. Click the Green NEW button > Lesson and type the name of your lesson (i.e. Geography). Click on the lesson you just made and click on the Green NEW button > New Question. You can set up whether the question is multiple choice, true / false, etc. You can also identify which question is the correct answer and the program can mark your students’ responses.
4. Test to make sure the clickers are working. You’ll want to make sure everything is working before you have a hoarde of impatient students in front of you.
PART B) Things to do during your lesson with the students
5. Assign clickers to the students. The clickers are numbered so each student must use their assigned clickers. Student can turn the clickers on by holding down the power button. They can turn the clickers off by holding down the power button as well.
6. Use your lesson from Step 3 with your students. Click the ENGAGE link at the top left of the screen. Click on the lesson you want to use. Select the class you are teaching and then select the assessment setup: teacher led, student-paced, or student-practice. Click on engage to get the program ready to receive answers from the students. Click START to allow students to send in answers. When you have finished receiving answers from students, click the END link on the screen to end this question period.
7. Show Reports. Click the REPORTS link at the top left of the screen. It will show all of the lessons you’ve done with the students including which class and the date / time. Pick the lesson you want to see and then choose the report type.