Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What's the deal with the Clickers?

In conversations across the nation, educators are asking each other "What's the deal with the Clickers?" I most recently discussed the student response systems with my own family at our annual holiday party and decided it was a post-worthy topic. And, no, I didn't bring it up first.

How would you like to get the whole class involved when you pose a question? And how about being able to give every student instant feedback on their response while maintaining their anonymity? Would you like to take attendance in 5 seconds? Does instant assessment sound like a great tool for customizing instruction on the fly? How about giving those multi-tasking 21st Century children another way to engage themselves and stay on task? And what if you could capture the responses and have self-paced quizzes graded instantly? All this is possible with a student response system such as the one made by eInstruction.

Of course, there are other brands as well. I encourage you to find the best solution for your environment. But, this is the system that I am most familiar with. Although other equipment is not necessary to use the clickers, the most common set up combines an interactive whiteboard, a digital projector, and a computer. Basically, the teacher asks a question and the students respond by keying a letter or number on their remotes. Then the responses are totaled and the results are shown on the screen for all to see in graph or table format. The teacher runs the show by entering a question on the fly, or by having prepared a template for a series of questions. Some textbook companies are making this easier by preparing the materials to coincide with individual chapters and units.

Teachers can always appreciate methods that will allow them to become more efficient. This tool can make learning more engaging for students and help teachers to become more efficient by precisely targeting their instruction.

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