The Potential of SMART Response LE to Support Student-Centered Learning
By Alex Dunn
After school last Tuesday, I carried the rather large bright blue bag of SMART Response LE interactive response clickers into Madame Viviane Gaudreault’s second-grade class at First Avenue Public School in Ottawa Canada, as she was excited to get started.
I spent about 30 minutes introducing Madame Viviane to the basics of SMART Response and then we took a few minutes to pair the LE clickers first with the receiver and then with the class list. I left that night knowing that Madame Viviane is truly exceptional but wondering with everything else teachers have to manage how often the SMART Response systems would actually get used. Well, I did not have long to wait for my response.
I was at another school on Wednesday when I received an email from Madame Viviane asking me to wish her luck. She told me her students would be using LE that afternoon. I was impressed by her willingness to take this on and to risk trying something new. She explained to me that she asks her students to risk every day, and therefore she should model risk-taking herself. More importantly though, Madame Viviane’s whole program is about student-centered learning. Her view on any tools introduced to the classroom is that if they are too difficult for students to use, then she will look for other tools.
As educators we are doing our job when we foster a supportive learning environment and then step back, put the tools in their hands and give them their moment to create and collaborate – it is about them and not us.
Madame Viviane is in a school where they have only one SMART Board interactive whiteboard, which is in the library. She regularly has students working on SMART Notebook collaborative learning software, which has been downloaded onto laptops in the classroom. Students work in groups to create and then Madame Viviane books time to share their work on the SMART Board in the library. What she found particularly appealing about the SMART Response LE for her primary students included:
- Fewer buttons, making the clickers less complicated for her young students to use
- Built into SMART Response LE is the ability to start and stop each question, so all students can stay on track and Madame Viviane can control of the flow of the lesson and also facilitate student independence.
The BEST part
What I found particularly impressive about Madame Viviane is that in her classroom it is all about the students. With access to only one computer, she selects two students in the morning to create a series of SMART Response questions on a topic they are covering that day.
For example, on the first day, a group of two students completed questions on multiplication and division at the computer, while the rest of the class completed their math at other centers. The next day, as it is French immersion, they studied les verbes qui termine en ‘er’ (verbs that finish in ‘er’. The students preparing the questions had to not only develop the questions but they also had to indicate the correct answer when formulating a question. So they too were completing a math or language activity at the same time as their peers, just in a different way.
All of the students in the class get a chance to respond to their classmates’ questions at the end of the class period. Sometimes they have access to the SMART Board but if not they just project the questions or the kids huddle around to computer to see them.
Madame Viviane made the following interesting observations:
- Students who are normally inattentive in class focused much better when using SMART Response.
- Students began helping to administer the assessment and were cheering as they could see the data rolling in. Madame Viviane would also participate in the quizzes and purposely answer incorrectly so students who got the answer wrong never felt like they were the only one – we are better together.
- Because students are logged in under their own name, Madame Viviane likes that she gets a student and/or class report every day. It provides her with additional assessment measures to add to her wide array of student evaluations.
What I love most about Madam Viviane’s example is that even though her school has limited access to technology, she is still very much choosing a Universal Design for Learning Toolkit approach with multiple means of representation, expression and engagement. She is also not getting too caught up in what they don’t have but instead what she can do to make the most of what they do have at the school.
What I admire most is Madame Viviane’s view that, as educators, if we are doing our jobs correctly, then our students should be center stage and not us. Students are the creators and teachers are the facilitators.
A big thank you to Madame Viviane and her second grade class at First Avenue Public School for teaching me something new and wonderful.
Other posts by Alex Dunn
SMART Inclusion makes impact on student with Autism
Life-Changing Experience: UConn Engineering Students Help Ashford Boy
Other Ways to Interact with the SMART Board and SMART Notebook software
Alternative Access to the SMART Table
Packing My Pink Suitcase for ATIA
About the Author
Alex Dunn is a Speech-Language Pathologist for the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), located in Oxford Mills, Ontario. She has been devoted over the last 16 years to exploring creative service delivery models to ensure ALL students, including those with severe communication challenges achieve the goal of meaningful educational and social participation. Most recently Alex has spearheaded the creation of Smart Inclusion, an initiative that combines assistive technology with emerging technology and pedagogy to support inclusion – making the impossible, possible for ALL students. Visit SMART Inclusion at smartinclusion.wikispaces.com. Canada’s 2012 SMART Exemplary Educator of the Year, Alex has shared her passion for the inclusion of ALL students across Canada, United States, UK, Spain, Germany and Puerto Rico.