"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow." --John Dewey

Monday, December 26, 2011

Socrates Would Be Pleased

Twas the day after Christmas and teachers worldwide
enjoyed some hot cocoa, and relaxed fireside.
Still, as joyous and fun as Christmas had been
the thought of their classrooms caused some chagrin,
for as the last Christmas ember fades and flickers,
they remember their wish for student response clickers.

Their request to Santa had been quite emphatic.
"My lessons need 'oomph', from questions Socratic."
But, alas, no clickers neath the tree appeared.
"It's back to the same old stuff," they feared.
Only the most eager of students will react
when asked to express opinion or state simple fact.

All hope is not lost, though, my good fellow teachers,
for we, as a group, are resourceful creatures.
To gauge students' learning with just a few questions
I have what I think are some worthwhile suggestions.
However, from here I'll proceed without rhyme,
for this is taking WAY too much time.

If you're lucky enough to have a computer lab at your disposal or a set of laptops to share, creating an account at Socrative.com will turn your present technology into a student response system that can be used with prepared questions, or "on the fly."  Here's how it works:
Go to http://www.socrative.com to request access to the site.  Once you receive an invitation to use the private beta site you'll go to http://t.socrative.com to sign in, and be assigned a room number.  Instruct your students to go to http://m.socrative.com and enter the same room number to become an active user.  Once everyone is logged in, you will have a number of options for using the site.  The immediate feedback you get from just a few questions will surely prove helpful in determining the pacing and direction of the remainder of the lesson, and the reports generated from a short quiz provide the all-important documentation you need before moving forward.  Can you think of a more impactful way to integrate technology?

BTW:  Any internet-connected hardware can be used with the Socrative website.  If your students have phones, or iPods or tablets at their disposal, they can all be viewed as a means for student interaction.

Of course, Socrative.com is far from the only option for electronically getting feedback from your students.  Polleverywhere.com, for example, is another option that's worth investigating, and free to use, assuming your class has fewer than 40 students.  Check out a concise "how-to" for using Polleverywhere here.

As valuable as they are, these websites do, unfortunately have their short-comings.  They will, however, give voice to those students whose hands rarely are raised, and whose vocal cords are normally dormant in class.

So there you have it--my advice for the week:
a website inspired by a wise ancient Greek.
Now I'm left with just one thing to do,
express my very best wishes to you.
Happy holidays, blog readers--each and every one.
You'll be happy to know, my poetry is done.  :)

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