Saturday, October 3, 2009

Clicker Wars: Senteo vs. Renaissance

My sixth grade students performed very well on the California State Standards test in Math. So well, in fact, that in a recent conference with my principal, she asked me what I believed was the highest contributing factor to this success. "Besides good teaching...?" I asked as I theatrically fogged up my fingernails and buffed them on my shirt... Well, there is one thing -- last year, my students were given more immediate feedback than in any previous year.

We were using the Senteo Student Response System, i.e. "Clickers." These responders have one leg "up" on Renaissance Responders in this: Senteo's provide instant feedback directly on the clicker! The ones from Renaissance do not. Granted, they do display the number of answers scored correctly. And yes, teachers can set a preference that allows students to see their score as a percent (or number) correct, but that's not the kind of feedback I'm talking about. Renaissance needs to make it so that the moment a student submits his or her test, each child's Renaissance Responder should display an "X" next to wrong responses, and a "✓" next to correct ones, similar to how Senteo does it!

I can not overstate how important instant feedback is to children. I am aware of a work around: I can print out a report for each student after each test. This is not a viable solution for two reasons: 1) it's not instant enough. I want my students to immediately go over their test and check their understanding. It's not enough to know they missed three out of 12. They need to know which three they missed so they can analyze their results, reflect, and repair their understanding. 2) It wastes time, money, ink, and paper. I have to take time to distribute a class set of print outs to students, waste 30+ pages worth of ink, and 30+ pages of paper. I'm trying to cut down on paper usage, not increase it.

I hope Renaissance addresses this issue as soon as possible. I'm certain their developers can make this happen. Until they do, I don't mind using the Renaissance Responders for anonymous responding, but Monday morning, I'm going back to the Senteo Response System when I need to give formative assessments because instant feedback is critical!

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