Classroom voting systems enthuse students and cut down teacher marking time, writes Lesley Marwood
Think vocabulary tests. Think of students' groans as you dish out pieces of paper. Think of your own groans as you spend countless hours marking tests in which the only mistakes are une instead of un, or an extra "n" in banane. Think of the (lack of) notice some pupils take of their mistakes.
Classroom voting systems consist of a piece of software which allows teachers to create multiple-choice tests and quizzes, coupled with hardware which gives pupils handheld remote-control devices where they input their answers.
Voting systems can make tests enjoyable, engaging and even inspiring. The ability to interact with questions, discussing why a certain answer is correct and others can't be, creates a valuable learning opportunity for pupils.
These systems are fabulous assessment tools, not least because of the time saved on marking. Results can be displayed to classes throughout or at the end of tests, or kept private then shared with individuals later. In addition, teachers can import results into spreadsheets, so there's no need for writing scores into markbooks.
Voting systems also allow teachers to tailor questions to the abilities of their own pupils - questions can be created which are as easy, or as difficult, as the teacher chooses. At times, pupils won't even realise they're actually being tested, yet the systems allow teachers to get an overview of how every member of a group has understood a topic, and not just those who shout loudest, or volunteer most often. The systems also give those pupils who find writing more difficult a welcome break.
Critics might label voting systems an expensive gimmick, but while they may look gimmicky the vast majority of pupils adore them and they learn from them.
Classroom Performance SysTem
Made up of a bag of handsets and a receiver, the Classroom Performance System (CPS) is a comprehensive assessment tool. The software is easy to use, with a huge range of question templates.
As well as truefalse and yesno options, there are layouts ranging from two to six multiple-choice questions and you can insert pictures for each question or answers.
After tests, various different reports can be generated, for example, individual reports to show pupils what they got wrong and what the correct answers were, or group summaries, which show pupils how well they did in relation to other members of the group.
A chalkboard feature allows teachers to pose questions and assess student response during a lesson, while tests can also be constructed that allow pupils to go through a question sheet answering at their own speed on the handsets.
This is a superb assessment tool, and takes minutes to master - inputting questions is quick and it is easy to use in the classroom.
Classroom Performance System
Price: No32-pad system pound;1,995, 24-pad system pound;1,595, 16-pad system pound;1,050
Tel: 01943 850 119
Available in sets of 8 to 255 futuristic handsets complete with flashing lights, Qwizdom comes with a special teacher remote, that allows teachers to control a test from anywhere in the room, and receiver.
Qwizdom combines the ability to present information on separate slides with the type of multiple-choice question and answer layouts described above.
This means the teacher doesn't have to switch programs when they want to present information then test pupils on it.
As with the CPS, teachers input their own questions, although the Qwizdom system gives the teacher the opportunity to specify a numeric response, as handsets have numbers instead of letters on the buttons. After entering a number, pupils "send" their answers to the receiver - this makes Qwizdom ideal for maths lessons.
Curriculum material is available, so teachers don't have to come up with question ideas. Although it can take a little time to work out the differences between bundles, resources and so on, perseverance does bring rewards. Teachers can spontaneously pose questions and provide charts and reports. Many teachers will appreciate the ability to input numbers.
Few pupils will be able to resist the lure of those flashing lights. But for the teacher Quizdom is perhaps the most difficult system to master.
However, new software has been introduced that claims to be more user friendly and has simple slide creation templates and the ability to directly import PowerPoint slides.
Price: 32-pad system pound;1,599. Includes a dedicated teacher remote
Tel: 0800 849 4047
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Part of the superb ACTIVstudio 2, ACTIVote handsets can be used as an assessment tool, with software that allows teachers to input a variety of multiple-choice questions and invite pupils to respond.
By using the ACTIVote handsets in an ad-hoc manner, they can also be used as a tool for teachers to gauge the understanding of a particular topic.
The teacher can pose a question to the whole class, then pupils can use the handsets to register their feelings. The speed at which the system collates pupil responses leaves more time for writing results up.
The Question Master part of the program, where teachers write questions, is easy to use and you can insert pictures.
Although this system contains fewer question layouts, the ability to use the ACTIVote handsets as part of a normal Flipchart presentation makes this a fabulous tool. Egg-shaped handsets and special code numbers with which pupils register for tests adds to the fun. As an assessment tool ACTIVote does not offer the full range of reports of the other systems, but as a component of the impressive ACTIVstudio 2, it's a great addition to the classroom.
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Price: 32-pad system pound;1,995 for existing Promethean customers, Pounds 2,195 for new Promethean customers.Price includes ACTIVstudio2, ACTIVstudio Motivote content, Hub (receiver device) and handsets.
Tel: 0870 2413 194
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