Spanish teacher uses cellphone app as teaching tool

Delano High School student Kaelyn Kilbo and other students interact with their Spanish teacher, John Fitzer, using their cellphones. Fitzer uses software called Socrative Learning as he guides students through quizzes, games and other learning exercises that are accessed via web-enabled tools.

Delano High School student Kaelyn Kilbo and other students interact with their Spanish teacher, John Fitzer, using their cellphones. Fitzer uses software called Socrative Learning as he guides students through quizzes, games and other learning exercises that are accessed via web-enabled tools.

by LANETTE FAUL

MATH TEACHER

DELANO HIGH SCHOOL

It seems like no matter where you go, almost everyone has a cellphone or some other form of technology in their purse, pocket or hands.

One Spanish teacher at Delano High School, John Fitzer, has embraced this technology on a regular basis in his classroom. Fitzer uses a free program called Socrative Learning that allows students to use their cellphones, iPads, iPods or other web-enabled devices to study, learn and review classroom material.

Socrative Learning is a free, online, interactive response system that allows teachers to engage their students through a variety of exercises and games via web-enabled devices. Socrative Learning can be accessed through any web browser, and the website offers tutorials for teachers.

Teachers log in through a computer and select an activity, which controls the flow of questions and games. Students log in with their device and interact real time with the content. The system allows teachers to create multiple choice, true-false and short-answer questions centered on the content of their own classroom.

Student responses are visually represented as either an online Google spreadsheet or as an emailed Excel spreadsheet that allows the teacher to review responses and gauge where lessons need to be directed. Short-answer responses can be projected instantly, and then students can vote on the content.

The system includes a game called “Space Race.” Teams of students answer questions, and the team that gets their rocket across the screen first wins.

Creators of this program decided it was important for everyone to have access to Socrative Learning, so they created some tool-specific apps so that all web-enabled devices could be used. All activities can be completed collaboratively, which means each student does not need a device.

Fitzer has been using Socrative Learning for about one year in his Spanish classes. He said Socrative Learning is an “excellent tool for formative assessment. Entertaining for kids and they can use their phones.”

He said he has learned that “students oftentimes are uncomfortable being ‘incorrect.’ This system lets all of them simultaneously tell me where they are at anonymously, at least to their peers.”

As students answer true-false or multiple-choice questions, results instantly populate a bar chart, which can be projected on a screen. These instant results allow an immediate discussion between teacher and students. Fitzer commented that as a teacher, “I get a better understanding of their comprehension of the topic at hand. Oftentimes as a teacher, we are not 100 percent sure of what kids are understanding. This system clarifies where students are at.”

For more information on this free learning tool, visit www.socrative.com.

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