Making the most of the Answer Key feature

Like, I’m sure, many people, my initial experience with Answer Key went something like this.

“Ooh, Answer Key. That sounds exciting”

*feverishly double clicks the desktop icon*

“Um, looks a bit confusing”

*randomly clicks buttons in the hope that something magical will occur*

*It’s a stupid tool which I didn’t want to use anyway. Humph”

*rage quits and storms away from computer*

OK, perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration but it did take me a while to summon up the courage to figure out how to use this in the classroom. Now, however, I’m a total convert. What teacher doesn’t want to provide their students with a self-marking, self-paced, fully differentiated activity, thereby freeing him/her up to address the students who are still a bit stuck? I’m not going to spend ages telling you how to set it up, as there are a number of websites which provide a step-by-step guide to do this, but I will tell you the ways in which I have started to use the software:

  • To mark homework at the beginning of a lesson – there are a number of advantages to this. Firstly, I don’t have to spend my precious PPA (and sadly, home) time ticking and crossing and I can provide target-based feedback instead. Secondly, it instantly lets me know if students struggled on a particular topic so I can address it instantly before moving on to the lesson of the day.
  • To complete ANY worksheet (and make a boring standard worksheet a bit more exciting) – students enter their answers as they complete each question. The Answer Key gives them instant feedback, but also allows them to work at their own pace. I don’t, therefore, spend my time telling students whether they are right or wrong, rather I can work with the students who really need me.
  • To truly differentiate a lesson – I have a couple of classes where students need to access COMPLETELY different work (for example, my level 1-2 student in my class of level 5 year 9s). Using the “multiple presentations” option, all students are completing work which is relevant to their ability whilst, once again, being provided with instant feedback. What a time saver!

I have no doubt that there are a number of different ways to use this software, so please do let me know if you have found any! In the meantime, please feel free to comment below for a copy of the smart notebook and answer key that I made for a short revision starter for my C/D grade year 11s. This should give you a good idea of one way in which you can make the most of the product.

This link will also show you how to set up and use answer key in more detail: http://www.slideshare.net/Qwizdom/how-to-use-qwizdom-answerkey

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Free resources!

http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/KS3-KS4-Maths-Qwizdom-files-6330748/

A link to my premade qwizdom resources, ready to download and display to your class. Mainly short end of topic assessments to be used with the games or just as a standard presentation. More to come soon!

Why clickers?

I’m currently attempting to get more of the maths department using Qwizdom, but I keep coming up against the same statements:

“It takes too much time to set up”

“I don’t see the benefit of using those things”

“There’s no time in the curriculum to do stuff like this”

Strategic-Planning-Skeptic

That last one irritates me the most, as the key behind the remotes is to integrate them seamlessly into your lessons, rather than as a last minute add-on to fill time. So let’s look at some of the benefits:

– They’re fun! I think this is the most important element of Qwizdom. As a maths teacher, part of my job is to engage the students and create a passion for the subject. This is easier said than done when you have their parents saying things like, “I was always rubbish at maths” and, “maths was never my subject”. The remotes create a competitive atmosphere which students of all ages and abilities love (I’m thinking about my bottom set year 11s who ask for them every lesson), and when you include the Mission to Mars and Fast Track games, you have can actually feel the buzz of excitement in the classroom as they race to answer the questions first!

– Complete inclusion. We’ve all come across that one student who barely pipes up to say, “Yes Miss” when the register is taken, let alone puts their hand up to answer a question. Qwizdom allows even the shyest of students to get involved, and even better it allows the teacher to assess every single learner at the press of a button. Ofsted, eat your heart out!

– Assessment. Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this but I think it deserves its own bullet point. The possbilities are endless (OK, not endless, but vast!) when it comes to assessing your students’ needs and progress. So far, I’ve used the games to recap on prior knowledge and check understanding during and at the end of a lesson. I’ve used Answer Key to provide instant feedback to the worksheet the students are completing. I’ve used the pick tool to pick random students to provide further explanation of their answers. I’ve created answer reports that allow each individual student to have detailed feedback to stick into their books, and even provided some of these reports to parents for information. I don’t even think I’ve scratched the surface on this element yet!

– Differentation. With clever use of the multiple presentations option in answer key, you can have more than one presentation running allowing you to differentiate the level of work that you provide each student. Clever, eh?

– It frees up the teacher to help the students who really need it, rather than the ones who just want to check they are doing the work correctly! With instant feedback, students are gratified and less likely to unnecessarily seek the attention of the adults in the class. In addition, the students can discreetly ask for help through their remotes if you are using the Q5 instructor remote. Brilliant!

So there are just a few reasons why I’m slightly addicted to Qwizdom at the moment, I hope I’ve managed to persuade you guys how good it is. If not, keep checking back for more detailed examples of how I use Qwizdom in the classroom.

Learn more…

ImageI am a maths teacher at a large secondary comprehensive in Berkshire. After stealing borrowing the Qwizdom Q4s from another department, I was keen to give them a go in my classroom. But where to start? It’s a fact that both software and hardware are not particularly intuitive, so I set about teaching myself the ins and outs of the voting system and its advantages in the maths classroom.

At the moment, we are using the Q4 handsets but due to their ability to include symbols and decent amounts of text, I’m currently lobbying for a new set of Q6s.