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Students Get Green Light for Texting

Most teachers don’t want their students texting in class, but not Eva Bartush. The eighth grade science teacher at Nathan Hale Middle School has figured out a way her students can text and learn. Bartush is an early adopter of “clickers,” a new technology beginning to appear in classrooms across Norwalk schools.  To see how, view the accompanying video in which Bartush's student teacher, Vanessa Cum, uses the clickers to review a lab from the day before.

Here’s how they work:  After going over a concept, a teacher asks her class questions, either short answer or multiple choice, to see if they understood the lesson. Each student in the class has a clicker that looks like a small remote control with letters and numbers to type in answers.  The answers are then sorted and graphed, by clicker number not name, on a SMARTboard,  the classroom's computerized whiteboard.  The teacher gets immediate feedback on the success of her lesson.

“The best part is that you know instantly whether your kids are understanding concepts or if you are totally off and have to re-teach the material in a different way,” says Bartush.  “Usually, you’d have to wait to grade papers to find out which kids understood the material.”

Another positive, according to Bartush, is the clickers require every student to be engaged,  “When I use the clickers, I’m expecting an answer from every kid, not just the smart ones who have their hands up.”  The software also allows teachers to create their own questions and multi-media lessons, adds Bartush.

In addition to daily lessons, Bartush uses the clickers for multiple choice sections on tests. The clickers provide Bartush with a way to give tests in different versions, to prevent cheating, or to modify tests for special needs students.

Importantly, the kids love using the clickers, says Bartush, which she offers them about three times a week. "They’re cool,” says eighth grader Alex Cardone. “You don’t have to wait to see if you got an answer right and no one can cheat off of you.”

Director of Technology, Robert Polselli, shares the enthusiasm. “They are a powerful tool,” he says. “Teachers have instant data, they save time correcting and the kids love it.”  Currently,  Poselli says that clickers, which run $2,400 a set, have been introduced in seven schools, mostly middle and high schools for math and science classes.  He plans to have at least one set of clickers in all the schools by the end of the year.

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