Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Q7: Do you frequently offer control of the ActivPen to your students?

I think offering control of the ActivPen is key to students being more engaged.  If they aren't offered the opportunity to use the Promethean Board, they run the risk of being passive observers rather than participants.  I was in a training once with a middle school teacher who had a SmartBoard and his philosophy was, the students should be touching the SmartBoard more than the teacher.

Today, students were manipulating shapes to demonstrate addition and subtraction of fractions.  As a problem came up, one student was solving it on the Promethean Board, while others were doing it with manipulatives at their seats.  Students at their seats were checking the student up front, while also checking their own work.  The whole time they were staying on-task because they wanted to be the next one at the board.  Very engaging.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Q6: Student Engagement

Do your students seem more engaged since you have started using your Promethean Board? 

Yes, students seem more engagedThe "clickers" are the best for instant feedback and engagement.  We just had P/T conferences and I heard from many parents saying that their son/daughter came home raving about the clickers.  I also had a student who, after his conference was over, ran to the Promethean Board to show his mom.  I gave him a blank flipchart and he demonstrated away, showing her how he had learned multiplication.

I have a question though for anyone who would care to answer:  Does the Promethean Board really engage more students? My answer is this...  I think the Promethean Board can still only engage one user at a time (with the "Dual User" feature it can engage two users).  It is still often a situation of 25 students in their desks, watching two users at the board.  I still need to be a good teacher and engage those students in their seats with questions that keep their minds active, so that they aren't just sitting there disengaged, hoping they will get chosen next.  Yes, engagement is higher because you can utilize all things that are on your computer, like images, video, flipcharts, websites, but it doesn't automatically improve engagement.  This is why I think the ActiveExpression Learner Response System is the best for student engagement.  They are really simple to use, you can setup a quick assessment on the fly, and every single student is engaged. Don't get me wrong, I am not looking for the "silver bullet" where --poof-- everyone learns without any effort from me.  That situation doesn't exist.  But I find myself going back and forth.  Some days I use it constantly, sometimes just jotting notes like I would on an old fashioned dry-erase board.  Other days I don't use it as much, going back to paper flip charts for groups to jot ideas and post on the wall. 

Engagement, ultimately, is a teacher quality.

Q5: Time Savers

Here is the question:  Which aspects of the software are the most effective time savers for you, allowing you to be more efficient with creation and delivery of content?
I think the biggest time saver is the "annotate over desktop" feature.  Funny, I was so confused by this at first and now I really like it.  I find myself showing students pictures, websites etc. and using this feature to point out key things that they need to know.
I also began using the Active Inspire clickers.  I was apprehensive because I thought there would be a lot of setup time.  But, I had a teammate who did it and said it was simple.  Sure enough it was, and I took a Friday to just hand them out and do some review of the content from that day.  I had a backup in case it didn't work.  We did some multiple choice, some T or F and then I asked students to text.  It comes so naturally to my third and fourth graders!  I now need to do a better job of integrating it into my lessons.  What a great way to do a quick review or a "ticket out the door" type of check-in after a lesson is over.