Case Studies - Activote accelerates learning and empowers students at Queen Elizabeth College
WHAT WAS NEEDED?
Point of entry
AsTTle testing at Queen Elizabeth College identified that in one cohort, there was a number of students who were performing below the national level of achievement for reading. To provide them with extra support in this area, a dedicated Year 9 class was created, to enable the teacher to focus on reading with this group during English periods.
In line with the school’s wider literacy programme, the driver behind the class was to raise students’ reading ability. Led by the head of the English department, Di Harper, the initiative approached teaching and learning from a holistic perspective – addressing the students’ motivation to learn as well as their core reading skills.
This was underpinned by support from teachers in the students’ other subject areas, who gave the students access to the literacy skills in all the classes that they attend. Moreover, the school dedicated many hours of professional development to the teaching team, with the focus firmly placed on improving student achievement.
Already aware of emerging interactive technologies, which increase knowledge transfer and improve student motivation, Di approached Promethean partner, Envision, seeking a
solution that would best meet the needs of her students.
Envision recommended Promethean’s learner response system, Activote, because it could support the assessment based learning of the reading programme.
Di comments: “When I saw Activote in action there was a real ‘wow’ factor to which I knew my students would respond well. The nature of a programme designed to raise achievement means you have to continually evaluate performance and I could see that Activote would support me in doing this.”
Used with or without an interactive whiteboard, Activote enables instant engagement with every student in the class. The teacher simply creates a flipchart question slide – yes/no, multiple choice, true/false, sliding scale – and then invites students to participate in the lesson using individual response pods.
When it is an opinion gathering exercise, the session can be run without names for anonymity, or if it is being used for formal assessment, student names can be allocated to their pod for reporting purposes. The system guarantees involvement from the whole class because the teacher can easily see when everyone has responded.
All of the activity from an Activote session can be instantly displayed as a graph, or exported to Excel for recording and analysis at a later date.
At Queen Elizabeth College, Activote was introduced without an interactive whiteboard, with pods for all 29 students in the class.
Since its introduction, Activote has made a tangible and positive impact. Di explains: “Activote has positively changed the atmosphere in our classroom. While the students used to be quite reluctant learners, they enjoy using Activote, which has made learning fun and encouraged them to get more involved.
“Integrating Activote within the reading programme has helped accelerate the students’ learning beyond expectations. They are now on track to achieve the New Zealand Certificate in Education for English, where they might not have before.”
By playing to the fun and reward element of Activote, Di has succeeded in empowering her students, exemplified by the improvement in behaviour of one student in particular. Recognising Activote was a motivator, Di appointed him as the system monitor, with powerful results: “He used to actively opt out of tests, which made it challenging to evaluate his progress. Activote has instilled a renewed sense of enthusiasm and as a result had an overwhelmingly positive impact on his attitude to learning.”
The kinaesthetic element of Activote has helped Di keep students on task for longer, as they are more actively involved with lessons.
It is also easy for Di to call up the results from a previous Activote session to compare students’ knowledge before and after a lesson. The students can then see at a glance, how much they have improved, rather than judging their performance on a single occasion: “With the students’ permission we compare the results, and then award prizes for the three most improved as well the top performers on a single occasion. It reinforces the message that we are striving for continuous improvement.”
With Activote used regularly in a formal assessment scenario, Di is also feeling the benefit from an administration perspective: “Using Activote is much more efficient than paper based assessment. The resources are easy to put together and can then be adapted and used again. When it comes to marking, all of the results are already collated, which saves more of my time. It really is my teaching buddy because I know I can rely on it to give me the information I need for an individual student’s mark book, without having to spend additional time collating it all.”
Having evaluated the students’ progress as part of an independent research study she is undertaking, Di has identified a 600 per cent increase in the students’ learning rate, an achievement on which she is determined to keep building: “The results are more than encouraging. They have shown that we have the potential to take the students beyond remedial learning and up to an accelerated level. We are astounded by what Activote has helped us and our students achieve, and are excited about pushing the boundaries even further.
“This project has shown that a significant difference can be made to students’ progress and achievement when technology and teachers are brought together within an ongoing climate of professional development.”
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