Class 4 Trialling an Electronic Response System

Electronic Response System in Class 4

… or ‘Pods’ as we call them.

This year we have begun trialling some new electronic gadgets in the classroom. The scheme is being run through the University of Cumbria and we are amongst the first schools in the country to trial these, although they have previously been used in universities.

What do the gadgets do?

Essentially, they look like a small Blackberry phone, and are used to communicate with the teacher’s laptop which links to the Smartboard at the front of the class.

At a basic level, the teacher can set a task with different levels of questions and the children work through the task at their level. As they do so, their progress is immediately displayed on the teacher’s screen, so the teacher can see immediately if a child is struggling with a particular type of question and know to go to them and assist.

A teacher can also ask spot questions and allow the children to respond on their Pods. This is particularly useful in maths, where responses can be shown anonymously in a graph, so children can see if they have got a different answer to the majority without feeling embarrassed about having given an incorrect answer.


How can we use them in  advanced ways?

In literacy, we have found the Pods particularly useful for developing word banks. A picture can be displayed on the screen and the children think up adjectives to describe the image. Their adjectives can then immediately be displayed on the screen for use by the class. Children could then, for example, be encouraged to think of an alliterative phrase including one of the adjectives. Again, these could be displayed and then children could be asked to put one of the phrases into an opening sentence for their work.

The advantages of using the Pods over ‘hands up’ is considerable. All children are engaged in the activity at the same time and the teacher is able to direct thinking in any direction they choose, for example they could direct children to expand and improve the sentences on the board by adding a semicolon. Children have the security of responses being anonymous to the rest of the class, but the teacher gets an immediate assessment of which children know, for example, how to use a semicolon correctly.

What about the fact it’s a trial?

As mentioned above, the trial is being run by the University of Cumbria. They are gathering data, through myself, about our use of the Pods including frequency of use, the type of tasks, and children’s opinions about the gadgets. Evening sessions for teachers are run at the university to direct our data collection and to help use use the software and the Pods to their full capabilities. Future developments of the gadgets will be based on the research of all schools involved in the programme.

So far, the response to the Pods has been mostly positive, with children engaging well with activities. A few technical difficulties have been identified, which will go towards the research and development, however most children are becoming increasingly confident in using the gadgets.

Thanks for reading,

Mr Tyrrell