Clicker Success Stories

University of Roehampton – Teacher Training

Emily Rotchell, Senior Lecturer

As part of their final year of student teaching, our students undertake a module called ‘Connecting Worlds’, in which they plan and implement a cross-curricular project demonstrating how different subjects can be linked together. Within the Inclusive Technologies option there has to be a focus on special education and inclusion, and a technology element also has to be incorporated, but the students are then allowed to select additional subjects of their choice to tie into the project.

I decided that the student teachers should use the Clicker software this year because of the positive experiences I had using it to support literacy lessons when I was teaching. Most of my student teachers hadn’t used it before, so I felt this was also a good opportunity for them to become familiar with a tool that they were likely to come across during their teaching careers.

First, I organized a training webinar with the Crick Software team, followed up by some hands-on sessions for the student teachers. I hadn’t seen the latest version so it was great to see how much the program has come on and how user-friendly it is.

Next, the student teachers went into school and worked with a small group of 4th grade students they hadn’t met before. They used Clicker to create some ‘getting to know you’ activities, including talking books about themselves, which gave them a chance to practice creating resources and use Clicker with the children before the actual project commenced.

The student teachers started their projects by using introductory activities designed to assess the students’ learning needs, preferences, and interests. What they learned during these sessions was then used to inform the nature and content of the resources created for the cross-curricular day.

There were so many great projects, but here’s an example. One group decided to center their project on enhancing speech and language through technology. They assessed their group through a series of pre-made Clicker activities downloaded from Crick’s LearningGrids website, including a matching activity based around pictures and instructions for baking a cake, and a Tortoise and the Hare book making template, which enabled children to narrate or write the story themselves. The student teachers found that three of the four children in their group found it much easier to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding by recording rather than typing. So, they made sure they included lots of speaking and recording activities in their cross-curricular day, which was based around a topic that really interested the children – superheroes!

The superheroes day focused on developing different skills surrounding speaking and listening that would aid the children’s final task of creating a Clicker story book. The history aspect of the day involved listening to the story of the Trojan war, presented from different viewpoints, and using this information to decide who was the ‘superhero’ and who was the ‘super villain’. The children then used Clicker to create a book about their chosen character, recording their ideas and presenting the argument for their decision. The word banks and prediction tool really helped them to improve their sentence composition and use relevant vocabulary; they also really enjoyed the creative element of being able to paint their character, which fed into their character descriptions.

Other subjects included in the day were art, drama, and music; in the music lesson, the children developed Superman’s ‘supersonic’ hearing and worked on identifying different sounds. They went on a sound walk to record different sounds and take pictures of the sources, and then used Clicker to make a book introducing the sounds they had discovered, with verbal descriptions of the different timbres, textures, and dynamics. They presented their books to the rest of the class.

Finally, the children used a word bank they had been adding to throughout the day to create a description of their own superheroes. The bank contained all the great adjectives and similes that the children had come up with during the previous activities. They used powerful verbs to describe their characters’ actions during drama, and the costumes that had been created during art. The children then recorded their ideas, wrote up their descriptions, and painted pictures, all within Clicker.

Here are some comments from the student teachers involved in this project:

As the day went on, the children’s confidence grew.

The recording tool would be good for the teacher to use as an assessment of speaking and listening progress.

The children were confident in writing their character descriptions and showed a marked improvement in the coherency of their sentences as well as their willingness to share ideas.

The children really benefited from sharing vocabulary via the word bank, which allowed each child to extend and develop their sentences.

The overall feedback from the student teachers about Clicker was very positive; the cross-curricular applicability was clearly strong, and they certainly saw the potential of the software if used to support learning over a longer period of time.

The children were motivated by using Clicker and really responded to creative activities that could be tailored to their interests. I was also really impressed by the ease with which the student teachers were able to differentiate activities for the different learning needs within their groups, for example providing prompts for the words certain students struggled to spell, or word banks to help generate ideas and guide writing structure.

My personal verdict having overseen the projects is that Clicker can be used so much more widely than I previously realized. I knew it had great potential as a support tool for literacy lessons, but the projects have really opened my eyes to its ability to provide students with that vital speaking, listening, reading, and writing support across the curriculum.