Last Thursday before Spring Break I did something a little crazy, a little unorthodox, a little weird…
At 6:30 in the morning I sent out a call to any and all interested teachers in our district the chance to get a set of classroom student response system clickers if they promised to attend a one hour webinar during their Spring Break, participate in online discussions and 4 face-to-face meetings over the course of the next calendar year. First come, first serve – I said I only had 10 slots. By 8:10 AM I had to unsend the message to all staff because of the overwhelming response to the initial email.
Twenty minutes into this experiment I felt the demand I had only minutely comprehended. I couldn’t reply fast enough to the stream of emails pouring in. This confirmed my belief – our teachers want technology in their classrooms to stimulate student learning. Badly. Hugely. And they are hungry to get it.
We’d been talking in our Tech Advisory and Tech Steering council about getting more tech tools into the hands of teachers for a while, a looong while Transforming teaching and learning like a positive virus through the district to me always seems to go best when it is bottom-up, rather than a top-down experience. My belief has been for a long time to go where the energy is: feed those with passion and interest and they will do amazing things.
But, with constraints on our school district budgets, it makes it hard to help people get going without resources.
So, why not give some really interested people, some resources and put them together and see what happens. This has been the discussion rolling around my brain for a while.
I am a true believer in the power of student involved assessment. I’ve been a follower and groupie of Rick Stiggins for too many years to count. The same research base he uses is tapped into by the Marzano bunch and has become foundation to a focus of work on the use of interactive student response systems, otherwise known to those in the education business as “clickers”.
Have you ever seen a teacher use clickers seamlessly, on the fly to transform learning and engagement in the classroom? It is a gorgeous and beautiful thing. I’ve been in classrooms where cynical teenagers typically tire after several weeks of the newest fad – and not be bored by the integration of clicker technology. Why? Because kids beyond loving toys love one thing more I think. They love themselves! They love to share what they think as individuals and know what their peers think as a group. And, tapping in to that need is what makes student polling and response technology awesome!
So, over the course of the next calendar year – we will have a robust group of 20 educators involved in action research using CPS Pulse Student Response clickers and INTERWRITEMOBI’s to stimulate learning in classrooms across the district. We will learn about how these are used with 1st graders, 3rd graders, 5th graders in elementary settings. 6th Graders in Social Studies and all middle grades in health and math. We will learn how they work in high school world language classrooms, and math classrooms, and intervention settings, and family and consumer studies classes.
And, we’ll have some insight on how this approach to accessing technology works – and spreads. I’m very interested to see how this group will impact learning beyond the sphere of these 20 classrooms across the district. I’m also interested to see what other opportunities we might find for other innovator groups of learnings willing to try different strategies and collaborative together.
Here are some great links about Student Response clickers in the classroom: