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8/16/2013
06:49 PM
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Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out

ExitTicket, software born in a classroom, can tell a teacher if the kids in the back of the class haven't been paying attention.

"Our average student comes into 9th grade at 5th grade level, hates math, and doesn't think of themselves as academic," Waters said. Yet they get "super jazzed" when they see a series of green icons on the screen showing several correct answers in a row, and that builds confidence, she said. "If they get a certain number of tickets in a row, they get a super-streak and the icon changes."

ExitTicket fan Adiletta said one reason he was interested in the technology in the first place was a positive experience he had a few years ago using clickers while he was teaching social studies at an Oakland, Calif., middle school. "This was an urban war zone, with kids who had never had a positive school experience, and all of a sudden they had something on screen that told them they'd done something right at school," he said. The effect was dramatic and "turned a lot of those students into budding scholars," he said.

More recently, he went looking for a next generation equivalent of that kind of student response system when he was put in charge of implementing 1-to-1 iPad program, where every student got one of the devices, at a private school, Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, Conn. Even though that particular program was based on iPads, Adiletta said he was looking for a Web-based solution that could also be used on other devices in the future, which is what led him to ExitTicket. While clickers are still a good option, a tablet has clear advantages he said. For "the students, having that screen of their own is much more powerful," he said.

Adiletta is starting the new school year as a social studies teacher at the University of Cleveland Preparatory School, an urban charter school in Ohio, where he won't have access to the same technology (although he is working on a grant proposal to change that).

"The pieces I found most attractive were related to ease of use," said James Sanders, who spent a year and a half on a technology evaluation process that led to the selection of ExitTicket by the KIPP Bay Area Schools, a charter school system in California that will begin using the software in the coming year. "We definitely didn't want any technology solution that would put an added extra burden on the teacher. We wanted the net strain on the teacher reduced rather than increased."

Sanders led the selection process while serving as innovation manager for the Bay Area affiliate of KIPP, a national network of college preparatory charter schools. The goal was to find a "real-time or near-real-time system where students would be able to get feedback on their performance," he said, and most of the other potential solutions he looked at were either part of enterprise learning management systems "where we wouldn't be using 90% of the features," while others were too lightweight, he said.

Sanders has since moved on to serve as a presidential innovation fellow at the White House working on educational initiatives, but he said he was speaking strictly as a former KIPP employee where ExitTicket is concerned.

Back at Leadership Public Schools, superintendent Waters said she is proudest of supporting two long-time educational goals: differentiation (altering instruction depending on what students do and don't understand) and intervention (helping students who get off track). Without technology, she said, "those are nice words, but you can't do it because it's too mind boggling -- you don't have the information."

On the other hand, with ExitTicket as a sort of business intelligence dashboard on student learning, it becomes possible to visualize patterns of understanding and misunderstanding. If four students all got the same answer wrong, a teacher can pull them aside and tutor them on that material, Waters said. Teachers can also establish their own playlists of content, such as Khan Academy videos, to offer to students who struggle with a specific concept, she said.

"We're also trying to establish the idea of micro-successes, where it's okay to get something wrong because you'll have plenty of chances, and you learn from your mistakes," she said. "Understanding your misunderstanding is the best way to move forward."

Follow David F. Carr at @davidfcarr or Google+, along with @IWKEducation.

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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
8/19/2013 | 3:24:38 PM
re: Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out
It's a big assumption that all children in a poor area will have smartphones. What happens if a child needs a loaner? And, when they're allowed to have their phones out, how does the teacher know they're not sitting there texting?
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
8/19/2013 | 4:17:40 PM
re: Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out
The charter school that developed this used iPod Touch devices for the pilot, so it was more a matter of using a device that resembled a smartphone and was more like consumer tech. They said they were starting to experiment with BYOD, but so far they've supplied the hardware.
Mike Blumenstein
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Mike Blumenstein,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 1:02:28 AM
re: Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out
Also, those ipods were used, i believe most were purchased on ebay and craigslist for around $25-40 each.
Mike Blumenstein
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Mike Blumenstein,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 12:52:34 AM
re: Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out
Lorna, part of it with managing tech in the classroom.. one trick teachers at LPS have used is that the students need to keep the device face down on the corner of the desk unless they are answering the assessment. This keeps the texting to an absolute minimum. Here is a recent video we posted about managing tech in the classroom you might find useful too. http://exitticket.org/videolib...
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/19/2013 | 8:25:55 PM
re: Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out
In an era when technology increasingly has the potential to replace people, wouldn't it be smarter for teachers to take on more responsibilities rather than to accept the delegation of responsibilities to software?
Mike Blumenstein
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Mike Blumenstein,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 12:59:56 AM
re: Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out
Thomas,
I don't think collecting data from the class via an automated assessment tool is the same as replacing people.. what it does replace is the bubble sheets, time spent grading quizzes, time spent reviewing and grading homework. Using tech gives the teachers instant feedback so they can DO their job faster, more efficiently and making sure students are not left behind. Here is a case where the data makes a huge impact in the classroom. Watch this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?f...

She is changing her Pedagogy, not allowing Tech to run her classroom, she is giving the students data, and making them responsible for their own mastery.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2013 | 8:29:52 PM
re: Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out
Seems to me this is an example of software to empower the teacher, rather than software to replace the teacher.
TaylorG654
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TaylorG654,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 12:44:05 AM
re: Software Tells Teacher When Kids Space Out
One of the things I really love about ExitTicket -- I was an Algebra 1 teacher who used ExitTicket for its first year in its pilot school, and have since observed lots of classrooms using it -- is that it allows teachers and students to make smart decisions about their learning and lesson plans. In any school environment, things always get a little muddy (some kids get this topic, some kids get that topic), and so there often ends up being somewhat of a *disconnect* between the teacher's rants at the front of the classroom, and what the students are actually needing. But with ExitTicket, that gap doesn't exist -- instead you talk about real data, you celebrate real data, you intervene based on real data, and in the process your kids feel a sense of belonging and purpose, and like they are being heard.
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