I’d like to thank ADM high school Spanish teacher Jodi Baier for welcoming me into her classroom for the first of what I hope are a long series of classroom technology observations. I have begun to schedule regular classroom technology observations in classrooms throughout the ADM Schools in an effort to:
- improve my own awareness of how technology is being used in our classrooms
- share the innovative practices of our teachers with other teachers throughout the district, giving all teachers a glimpse into how technology is being used in other classrooms and in other buildings
- provide the public with information about technology use in our schools. Our community has been tremendously supportive of our technology integration efforts, notably through the overwhelming voter approval of our Physical Plant and Equipment Levy to support the technology program – and the community deserves to see how this investment in technology is manifesting itself in our classrooms.
This morning, I had the opportunity to sit in on a Spanish III class being taught by Jodi Baier. The technology equipment present in her room included a MimioTeach interactive whiteboard device, a MimioView document camera, a MimioVote classroom response system, a ceiling-mounted projector and speakers, and a MacBook Air laptop. A focus of today’s class was on preparation for an exam that students will be taking tomorrow, and as such, Ms. Baier made use of the MimioVote classroom response system to give the students a self-paced practice test.
The MimioVote sets – which use MimioStudio, the same software as is used for the MimioTeach and MimioView devices – allow students to use wireless pads to record their answers to questions. In this case, Ms. Baier had created a practice test within MimioStudio, and had used the software to generate a printable version of the test to hand out to students. The students work at their own pace in reading through the questions on their exam handout and recording their answers electronically using the response pads. When a student is finished, the response pad’s digital display automatically shows them the percentage that they got correct on the exam, and the students can scroll back through the questions to see what the correct answers were to questions for which they chose an incorrect answer.
One of the most challenging aspects of incorporating a new technology in class is the concern that something will go wrong. Since this was one of the first times that Ms. Baier had made use of the MimioVote set for an exam, she was able to get around this concern by utilizing the set first for a practice test, rather than risking a problem during an actual exam. Further, just to be safe, she asked students to also write their answers on their paper exam copies, though she told the students that if all went well they wouldn’t need to do that in the future.
The implementation of the exam, as it turned out, went off without a hitch. Ms. Baier told students that she had assigned each of them a number, and the MimioStudio software displayed all of the student names/numbers so students would know which pad they should pick up (each pad has a number displayed on a digital screen). Students picked up their pads, clicked a button to mark themselves as present, and after a brief introduction to the pads by Ms. Baier, began the tests. Most students recorded their answers digitally as they answered each question, though a few wrote all of their answers down and then entered them all digitally at the end. Considering that this was a first use of the MimioVote set, I was surprised that no students asked questions about how to use the pads, move between questions, etc., a credit to Ms. Baier’s instructions.
As students finished their exams, the MimioStudio software provided a visual display of how many students had finished. Once all of the students were done, Ms. Baier was able to quickly tell them what the average practice exam score was for the class, and then they proceeded to use MimioStudio to walk through the exam questions, discussing correct answers and key concepts. After discussing the exam, Ms. Baier instructed one student from each row to collect the pads and return them to the MimioVote tray, a process that only took about 30 seconds to complete. This was my first chance to see the MimioVote set used for a self-paced test in a classroom, and it seemed to work with no problems.
In addition to making use of the MimioVote set, Ms. Baier also used the MimioView document camera during an opening review of Central American nations and capitals, and used MimioStudio to show slides with relevant information about the upcoming test and a link to an online practice resource. The organization of the room was such that it was easy for Ms. Baier to quickly access her computer or the MimioView to transition between slides, switch between the MimioView and MimioStudio slide displays, and display the exam questions, with a permanent spot for the MimioVote set, MimioView, MimioTeach bar, and her laptop at the front of the room. After class, Ms. Baier commented that she’s working to gain more comfort with using the MimioTeach interactive stylus to control lessons, but that while she’s had no problems with it for things like MimioStudio slides and Word documents, she’s run into some problems in terms of manipulating an online textbook with the stylus.
I want to thank Ms. Baier for welcoming me into her classroom, and was excited to see the effective uses of the MimioVote set and other technologies. As I mentioned earlier, it can be intimidating to incorporate a new technology in the classroom, and this class showed some excellent approaches to low-risk implementation of new tech!