Teacher Dave Rudey Agrees that Using this Student Response System is “As Easy As Raising Your Hand”
Let me set the stage: it’s professional development at our district administration building. Our district has made a MAJOR leap; within the next three years, we want to have a full 1:1 iPad rollout to our students completed. This coincides with our overall “rethinking education” push and a move to NxGL (“Next Generation Learning”) classrooms. One-third of the roll-out had been completed (Districts, like elephants take their time and aren’t usually in a hurry). At the time it was “Arab spring” in areas of the Middle East, and there was a similar feeling in room 704 – the professionals were restless.
Continuing on, have you ever been to a meeting where you asked yourself, “Wait a minute! Maybe I should be leading this!”? This is not to say that the facilitator wasn’t doing a good job; it was more that as the plane was being built in the air, we needed a mechanic.
As the meeting progressed, it became apparent that all the note taking apps in the world weren’t going to help anyone RIGHT NOW. Teachers love stuff they can use tomorrow and many of the apps we had brought up in discussion involved a scaffolded deployment. So when the question was asked, “What is your favorite app?”, Socrative came up. And a comment was made that went something like this, “Socrative is amazing. It saves me time, it has changed the way I quiz, and it has increased student engagement.” I made that comment. It raised quite a few eyebrows, mostly because a few others teachers had used the app to poll in the classroom.
How Socrative Works
Here is how Socrative works and why you should use it: Students go to the app store and download the free student clicker. You – the teacher – go to the app store and download the teacher clicker, which is also free. On your student clicker, you will need to enter in a room number as the student and activate the quiz as the instructor. This is a two-way device app.
As the instructor, you’ll need to add and edit content. While this may seem like it would take an excessive amount of time, it moves very quickly once you get the hang of it. I like to copy-cut-paste quizzes from MS Word. There are some recent features like adding a picture and graded short answers that are worthwhile, but I want to get back to that idea of saving time!
First, as you edit content, you have three basic question types: multiple choice, True/False and short answer. These options really don’t need much explanation, other than knowing that they will offer you the option to grade your short answers (note that and the student submitted response has to be identical to what you enter – I learned that the hard way when students keep getting the question “What river plays a key role in the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?” wrong.)
Second, as you edit content remember, this app provides real-time feedback. Meaning, students will get a pretty good idea how they are doing. As a learning professional, it is valuable to put in an explanation for right/wrong answers, which for the purposes of graded formative work, is important. This idea of real-time feedback is what really ramps up the level of student engagement with this app.
The quiz-based activities are nice, but one negative for me is the Space Race function. It’s okay, but I don’t recommend it because it takes more front-end work that delivers less back-end reward. Plus, it looks kinda “hokey”.
The Start Quiz function is really the bread-and-butter option. What I love above the way the quiz will look for students is you can randomize answer choices. Now, instead of trying to come up with multiple quiz forms to prevent cheating, it does it for you. Also, a student paced vs. teacher paced option is available for those timed-activities that you know need to help students prepare for the timed element of the ACT/SAT.
When you enter in your questions, it will give you the option to send back a report. The report will be sent to your login e-mail. That report is key as it will give YOU the correct number of answer choices. It grades the work for you! How cool!
Upon my initial uses, I would show the results up on the board and occasionally comment “Student X is done!” or “Student Y, you have ten more questions.” The reward was certainly a sense of increased student engagement.
Finally, the app does a nice job of saving reports. So, in case of a “grade book crash”, you’ll have data stored.
Again here are the highlights:
- Completely Free
- Two-Way feedback device
- Engaging for the kids
- Grades work for you
Here’s the Socrative web site: www.socrative.com. Enjoy!