The Utah Education Network (UEN) has developed a really great databank of questions for teachers in Utah to use. It us called the Utah Test Item Pool or UTIPs. They even have a way for teachers to set up a test for students to take online. It is a pretty good piece of software, however it does have it’s drawbacks (as most pieces of software do). One if the biggest in the past is that if hundreds if students within the state are taking tests online, it can bog down the system. Also, if your network connection in your school it district goes down and you have planned on having your students taking that test, you are pretty much up a creek.
However, what I REALLY like about UTIPs is the databank of questions available. A lot of times questions that weren’t used on the end-of- level tests are placed here fir teachers to use. However, the drawback to this is if you are unfortunate enough not to be one of the core teachers (math, English, or science) you will have to create your own questions.
I have noticed that using ExamView allows me to create a test that my students can take in out local network. This helps if our district Internet connection goes down (not that it does frequently, however it has gone down at inoppurtune times). ExamView also helps because if the great reports it has. I’ll go into those reports at another time.
Another great reason to use ExamView is because it is owned by eInstruction. This is a company that also creates what is known as “clickers.” Although not the only company to make these clickers, it is one if the best sets around. I have even had people tell me that they have used them in their college classes at BYU and UVU.
These clickers are some if the best technology around for teachers. It allows teachers to evaluate students’ knowledge of anything right now. They also allow for a safe environment for students.
It is really nice to ask a question and see where the while class is on their knowledge of that subject. Of course one question does not really give you that perspective. However as you even ask one question most clicker software will tell you what percentage if the class got or guessed the question correctly. If a low percentage got it right, you as the teacher can spend a few minutes talking about that subject. This can spark a great discussion with students because there will be inquisitive students that will always ask more questions about the subject. It is always fun to talk about a topic that students thought they knew, but is obvious they don’t. I always like to throw a re- worded question a second or even third time to see how many students were paying attention before.
Students can feel safe because most clicker software won’t show if the student got the question right or not in front of the class. I always tell my students that if they were the only one in the class that got it wrong, they could laugh at the person that hot it wrong and no one will know that it was them.
eInstruction’s Classroom Performance System (CPS) is a pretty good piece of software. As I mentioned before, it integrates with ExamView quite easily. It is also an east interface to use. When you have “engaged” a lesson there are several options availableyo you. You can randomly puck a student and even wait until all students have been picked before starting the list all over again. You can also set it up so that it only picks the students who ate present that day. You of course can see a breakdown of what percentage of students answered the options that were available for the question.
One of the funnest features is the Top Ten list. This will give students a certain amount of points if they guess the question right. At first it is east to see who got the question right and who didn’t, but after about 5-6 questions it isn’t that easy. Also it allows you to give the first student who got the question right extra points. This is a real motivator to get in as soon as possible. However, it only goes to the first person that got it RIGHT. Also, if they guessed right, but then changed their answer, the extra points go to the next person. My students to crazy trying to get in first, plus they are always watching the points of their friends and calling them out when they pull ahead if them.
OK, so this entry has gone on way too long, and I may have talked too much, so I will end it here fir today and puckbit up tomorrow.
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