I’m not too sure what the proper name for these are, however at the PD I attended, we were able to play around with these ActivExpression hand held devices, and use them as if we were students in a classroom.
Its sort of like a mobile phone, where every student has their own device, and the devices can have their own individual names, to allow the teacher to identify which answer came from which student.
The presenter at the PD put a blank screen on the smart board, and wrote the word “mother-in-law” in the centre. Each person in the audience could then type their own word relating to this on their device, and “send” it to the smart board. The words would then automatically pop up on the smart board, around the centre word, and a brainstorm was created.
Our devices were set to anonymous mode, which means that the students don’t know who has contributed which word, as on the smart board there are no clues as to who has sent each word. I was worried that this meant students could write inappropriate things, however the presenter then assured us that the teacher could check, as he demonstrated by clicking on an individual word on the board, which then opened a little box that said which number device had sent it… and was able to see which teacher had described their mother in law as a bitch 😛
I loved this activity, as it was so engaging and exciting, and you wanted to contribute, because you wanted to see your word fly onto the screen. I think it would be great in a classroom, because everyone is able to contribute, even the shy kids who are reluctant to answer questions. I also love how it has the anonymous setting, so that kids aren’t scared to contribute even if they are unsure of their answer.
You can also use the devices to answer multiple-choice questions, where the answers come up on the device’s screen, and the student presses the button of the answer they think is correct. This can also be done with true/false questions, and surveys, and the answers can be automatically made into a graph on the board.
I also think it is great how schools whose budgets don’t allow for the devices can still access the activity, as they mentioned that there is a website available where the students can do the same things, but just from their laptop or iPad.
You can visit Promethean’s website to find out more about the ActivExpression handheld devices, or to play around with an interactive demonstration of an Active Classroom.