Saturday, February 20, 2016

Differentiation with ClassKick App

In January I participated in a web chat with Laura Litton from ClassKick. ClassKick is an iOS app that allows a teacher to create an assignment of slides and then watch students complete them in real time. While students work, they can raise a virtual hand to get help or their work checked. I love that students can help each other within the app. Stickers are available for instant feedback. Students can go back to their work (or parents and others could watch a student work) with a new web viewer. I have written about ClassKick a couple of times before and every time I use it I like it even more.

When I spoke with Laura last month, she mentioned that some teachers are using it to differentiate instruction and I asked for more details about that. She said some teachers create different assignments and provide the codes for those assignments to different groups of students. Other teachers create multiple page assignments and give students a menu of pages to try out. I thought both those ideas sounded interesting, but I tried something else in my classroom this week.

The feedback stickers in ClassKick are customizable. I created one sticker that said "Great Work! Go to the next question" and another that said "Great Work! Skip the next question." Then I created the assignment slides, each one with a math problem to solve. I placed them in order of increasing difficulty and grouped them by topic. I told the students to wait to have their answers checked before moving on. If they got the answer correct, I used the sticker that told them to skip a question; if they struggled a little, I sent them to the next question.

The Good

Here are some things I liked about using ClassKick in this way:

  • Every kid did not need to do every question and this provided a seamless, private way that I could provide help and targeted instruction.
  • Students could work at their own pace on these questions. No one had to wait for everyone to finish before moving on, but some lab groups elected to work through the problems as a group, so they had an option for individual or group pace.
  • Students could ask for help and receive it from me or their peers. Students could give help while they waited for their answers to be checked.
  • Students seemed to like the idea that sometimes they got to skip questions!

The Not-so-Good

Here are some challenges to using ClassKick in this way:

  • Sometimes students didn't wait to work to be checked before moving on, so by the time I said "skip the next question," they had already completed it!
  • Some students never asked to have their work checked and then I didn't realize that I needed to look for it until after the lesson.
  • In one of my classes, I had a very hard time keeping up with all the checking and students weren't asking for help, so there was a backup.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I liked using ClassKick to differentiate like this and will definitely try it again. As a feedback system, I loved it and it was reasonably easy to send kids to a particular question when they needed to practice or when they were more ready for a challenge. I love that I have screenshots of everything they did so I knew exactly where to start and what to emphasize in the next lesson. Most of all, I love that ClassKick is chatting with teachers, has a suggested features page, and is working on a web version of this great tool.

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