Earlier this week I walked into the librarian’s office in my school to ask a simple question. That’s when I saw it: a bright blue bag that could only be our SMART response clickers.
I have used clickers in the past. Perhaps used is not the word; “built my curriculum around them” is a better description. Classroom response systems, as they are called, are one of the more exciting elements in modern classrooms. They generally consist of a computer, a receiver, and dozens of hand-held remotes.
The teacher leads the students through a series of questions and the students answer through their remotes. Usually these questions are numerical or multiple choice, although several products are out there that allow short answer questions as well.
Clickers have several benefits and distinct limitations. Clickers are a great way to give tests or quizzes. I’m fond of ending each lesson with one so that I can quickly identify who got the lesson and who will require intervention. As a teacher, you get a print-out seconds after the quiz that tells you who got what grade. The students get instant corrections and feedback on their work. On the other hand, the students can’t show their work, and it can be hard to decode from a multiple choice test just where the student is having problems.
I like to think of clickers as a way of quickly and easily identifying if my black-and-white lesson objectives have been met. For example, do all of my students know how to divide? Do they know the capital of Michigan? Can they find the area of a rectangle? It might not tell me how exactly the student is struggling, but it does tell me which ones are, instantly allowing me to make a quick intervention while the concept is still fresh in their minds.
There is another dilemma: In my last school I was the only teacher in the building who knew how our clickers worked and had any interest in using them. Here in Greenwood, I am surrounded by staff who are eager to use these new devices. I’ll have to share my toys …