Promethean IWB Activote and Socrative – Student Response Systems

Promethean IWB ActiVote

Collecting feedback from students regularly (daily) and in a way that allows a teacher to see areas of weakness across a class or with individual students is important if we are to move student learning forward. At PBAS Paul has set up and is using the ActiVote devices with his Year 5/6 class to get feedback from the students about how well they have understood concepts he is teaching.

ActiVote Devices – The quote below has been taken from the Promethean website.

“With ActiVote, you won’t have to guess whether students truly grasp the lesson content. The entire class clicks to respond and answers are instantly viewed, shared and discussed on the ActivBoard in simple  formats, such as bar graphs and pie charts. Gain insight into student progress and use real-time feedback to determine whether you need to review, re-teach or proceed with the remainder of lesson. Students build confidence with every vote, while evaluating their own progress through both instant feedback and achievement records tallied over time.”

As with most technology understanding how it can be applied and setting it up so that it consistently works can prove challenging. Paul has had to persist and overcome a number of hurdles to get his ActiVote devices working but now that they are he is very pleased with the results. Having overcome the initial problems Paul has a set of ActiVote devices for his classroom set up so that each student knows their device and can quickly access it. Paul can display questions, the students can respond and the data can be displayed immediately in a number of formats (selected by Paul). The data can also easily be saved to an Excel document for further analysis.

One example Paul provided me with was his use of the ActiVote devices in a maths class. Students had covered a concept and Paul wanted to see what gaps in student knowledge remained. He designed a series of questions for the concept and had students provide their answers using the ActiVote devices. He found that for the majority of questions about 95% of the class understood. There were a number of questions however where 75% of the class struggled, providing Paul with an easy and quick way of seeing what needed to be revised. This use of the ActiVote devices is much more time efficient for Paul when compared with collecting up each students homework contract and marking all students attempts at similar maths problems to find out the same information. Obviously question design is critical when using these devices and multiple choice questions have their limitations so understanding and continuing to use other methods of formative assessment is also important.

The benefit to PBAS of Paul’s hard work getting his ActiVote devices up and running is that we now have a great resource to draw on if others wish to use the same technology. I know that Paul is currently working closely with Jackie and her 3/4 class to set up the devices in that room.

Below is an image of the Activote devices. Below the image is a video which is quite old now but will give you an idea of the ActiVote devices and how they work.




Socrative is an online student response system that is exceptionally easy to use if you have a access to the internet and students have access to a device (laptop, PC, iPad). At PBAS I see this as a great tool to use with the 9/10 class as they all have access to their MacBook. With the immediate access our Year 9/10 students have to MacBooks Socrative becomes a very effective formative feedback tool for teachers to use.

To set up Socrative the teacher needs to create an account (students do not need accounts) and once logged in can create quizzes and exit tickets (multiple choice, True/False and short answer options are available).

When the teacher is ready to give a quiz they get students to log in by going to, click on Student Log In and enter the teachers Room number (mine is 83286 which you can see in the image below). Once students are in they will see the quiz and can begin. As well as quizzes teachers can generate Quick Questions (instant feedback on something just discussed) or Exit Tickets (answer prior to leaving the room).

Teachers can also choose what type of quiz they want students to undertake. Options include Student Paced with immediate feedback – students will see the correct answer or teacher explanation straight after answering the question, Teacher Paced – teacher controls the flow of questions.

Socrative allows the teacher to turn a quiz into a game called Space Race. The teacher can choose the number of teams, auto assign or have students pick colors, then student paced answering of questions determines how “fast” each spaceship proceeds.

See the video at the bottom of the post for further explanation of how Socrative works. The video gives a example of the teacher and student devices working side by side showing what is happening on each.

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Curriculum Resources – Australian Curriculum

Below are websites that provide units of work, or resources for planning units of work linked to the Australian Curriculum.

English and the Australian Curriculum – English for the Australian Curriculum

This resource is a national initiative to support the teaching and learning of English and literacy from Foundation to Year 10, produced in partnership with Education Services Australia and the joint associations of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English, the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association and the Primary English Teaching Association Australia, representing more than 10,000 teachers of English.

Maths and the Australian Curriculum – Top drawer teachers

Big ideas The big ideas that underpin the mathematics are explored and explained.
Misunderstandings Some common misunderstandings and their causes are described and analysed. There is teaching advice, and activities, designed to avoid or correct these misunderstandings.
Good teaching Key content is explained thoroughly. There are suggested teaching approaches and many suitable activities. You will find videos, slide presentations, worksheets, digital learning objects and more.
Assessment Aspects of assessment are discussed.
Activities Student activities that appear in other parts of the drawer have been collected here. However, many of the pages contain further suggestions and ideas for other activities.
Downloads All downloadable files, such as student worksheets, teacher notes, activity templates and video transcripts, are available here.

Science and the Australian Curriculum – Science Web Australia

The Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) in partnership with Education Services Australia (ESA) has prepared 15 units of work to support teachers in the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Science as part of the Supporting the Australian Curriculum Online (SACOL). The units are designed for students in years F–10.

These units have been written by experienced teachers using resources that are available online. Each unit consists of an overview, five lesson plans, and additional links and resources.

Information for teachers on developing programs in Science for gifted and talented students is provided by Australian Science Innovations. This is supported by the inclusion of extension activities for gifted and talented secondary students for the units in years 7–10.

History and the Australian Curriculum – AC History Units

AC History Units presents 8 units developed by the History Teachers’ Association of Australia to support teachers in the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: History.

Geography and the Australian Curriculum – GeogSpace

GeogSpace offers quality primary and secondary geography resource materials for all teachers of geography, including those that are very experienced and those just commencing their involvement. The materials will support teachers to develop their knowledge, skills and pedagogical capacity to teach geography of the highest quality.

Arts and the Australian Curriculum 1 – Arts Pop

There are five art forms specified in the Shape of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. They are DanceDramaMedia ArtsMusic, and Visual Arts. Arts-POP shows how each art form makes a distinct contribution to cognition by drawing on each child’s senses and imagination. Each art form is valued equally within the generic learning area of the arts.

Arts and the Australian Curriculum 2 – The Arts Live

This interactive web application to facilitate collaboration and innovation across all five art forms in your classroom. Regardless of your existing skills and knowledge, ARTS:LIVE provides extensive cross-curricular content, with sequential instructions to bring the arts alive.

Digital Technologies and the Australian Curriculum – CSER Digital Technologies

This course will explain the fundamentals of digital technology and computational thinking specifically addressing learning objectives of the Australian Digital Technologies curriculum (Foundation-6). Come learn about how digital technology can be integrated into your classroom, exploring example lesson plans, and helping form a community designed to share resources and support.

Australian Curriculum Lessons – English, Maths, Science, History and The Arts all covered

Australian Curriculum Lessons is a site designed for educators in Australia. A user-submitted site who depend on teachers to post their great lessons so that other teachers can get ideas and lessons to use in the classroom.

The aim is to create one of the largest curriculum-linked lesson sites that values innovation and excellence in the teaching profession. A site that also allows teachers to show off their skills in planning lessons and creating wonderful learning experiences for students in Australia and the rest of the world.

More Resources

For a wider range of resources for all subject areas (some linked to the AC and some not) go to the top of the blog and click on the curriculum area page you would like to see resources for.

Formative Assessment Reflection

I hope that staff were able to get something out of this weeks staff meeting, being able to reflect where they are at with developing formative assessment techniques with students. It is important to remember that formative assessment is something we have been doing our whole teaching careers. It is not so much about implementing something new but building on what we have always done – moving student learning forward.

As we all took the time to reflect this week I thought it was important to provide you with resources that explain some of the formative assessment techniques that teachers have discussed in their plans along with a few that teachers may not be as familiar with. The Teach. Learn. Grow. The education blog  is where I have sourced the links below. This blog is part of NWEA – “Founded nearly 40 years ago, NWEA is a global not-for-profit educational services organization known for our flagship interim assessment, Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®). Educators trust our assessments, professional development offerings, and research to help advance all students along their learning path.” It is my understanding that this group has worked closely with Dylan Wiliam in the past.

I have also created a Formative Assessment page for the blog which also contains the links below as well as some other formative assessment resources. Go to the top of the blog and click on the Formative assessment page to have a look.

Each article is short and concise and provides insight into the technique and its value.

Visit the following two blog posts “22 Easy Formative Assessment Techniques for Measuring Student Learning” and “10 Assessments You Can Perform In 90 Seconds”.

Techniques in the posts include:

The Popsicle Stick, The Exit Ticket, The Whiteboard, Corners, Think-Pair, Share, Two Stars and a Wish, Carrousel Brainstorming, Jigsaw, ABCD Cards, Basketball Discussions, Student Centered Learning Strategies – Two Ideas for Providing Feedback

New clothes, Do’s and Dont’s, Three most common misunderstandings, Yes No chart, Three questions, Explain what matters, Big picture, Venn diagram, Draw it and Self directed response.

Formative Assessment

In our staff meeting this week (week 1 term 3) we will be revisiting our formative assessment action plans from early term 2. What formative assessment strategies did we say we were trying to accomplish in our classrooms and have we had any success? If you don’t have your personal action plan at hand then you can access it by clicking here. This will take you to the post Teacher Personal Action Plans: Formative Assessment where we shared our plans with each other. I will print a copy of all those shared on the blog and bring them to the staff meeting. Those that did not put their plans on the blog will need to bring them to the meeting.

The main focus of the meeting will be to reflect on where we are at and how we will continue to move forward using formative assessment. Some time will be given to plan in more detail what it is you would like to achieve and determine timelines around implementation and reflection. Our focus on formative assessment is about improving our ability to move student learning forward.

Have you made a genuine attempt to improve your use of formative assessment or is it on the back burner (if it is why is it?)? If what you have tried or try in the future does not work for you the need to persist, adapt and modify is important. The quote from Dylam Wiliam below reinforces why formative assessment is important.

‘Formative assessment describes all those processes by which teachers and learners use information about student’s achievement to improve their achievements. So it’s about using information to adapt your teaching, to adapt the work of your pupils to put the learning back on track … to make sure the learning is proceeding in the right direction and to support that learning. So it’s what happens when you don’t just lecture students and rattle through the material and then ask them if they understood OK.’  Dylan Wiliam, Nov 2006

Below is a graphic that has some of those formative strategies on it. There is also some video, text and images embedded into the poster to help explain some concepts.

Unfortunately the video embedded could only be up to 30 seconds long as the app I used (ThingLink) was a free version, the paid version is a $250 subscription for a year designed for businesses. Due to this concepts are not explained in any detail, however revisit Dylan Wiliam’s book Embedding Formative Assessment for full explanation of all strategies.

Photo Mapo

Photo Mapo is a great app that allows you to incorporate images with a map which shows the part of the world the image was from. The app also allows you to include some text describing the image and or location. There are a wide range of styles/formats to choose from and the app is free. The app allows you to save the image to the iPads camera roll, from here it can be removed easily from the iPad.

Applications for learning and teaching

1. School projects – history/geography. Use Photo Mapo to match an image (man made or natural landmark) with its global position.

2. School camps/sports events – use an image from a school camp in Photo Mapo. A great way to make a newsletter article stand out or add to a report.

3. Students could use an image of themselves (or family members) to show where they live. Students could compare where relatives live around the state, Australia or overseas in relation to other students in the class.

4. Students could prepare a Photo Mapo showing something they did in the holidays and where that was.

5. Use Photo Mapo to design the cover for a book or major project.

6. Art/Science/Maths – find images of famous artists/scientists/mathematicians that are relevant to the content students are learning, include some descriptive text and show where they were born or lived. Print in colour as A3 or A4 posters.

This app enables students to create professional looking images and connects photos with geographical locations allowing for, among other things, discussion around local, state, national and international geography.

Note: Photo Mapo is on the school iPads and the Learn Link internet connection allowed the location function to work when I tested it.

Taking the kids on the Pichi Richi Railway in the school holidays.

Year 5/6/7 Aquatics Camp

Longest river in the world is called River Nile and it stretches up to 6,650 Kilometers or 4135 Miles.

The Empire State Building is a 103-story skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street.

Junior Primary History

Angela Ingram’s Reception, Year 1 and 2 students have been studying the past as part of their History curriculum in term 3. The Australian Curriculum asks students to describe personal and family events of significance (by end of year 1) and pose questions about the past using sources to answer those questions as well as compare objects from the past to the present (by the end of year 2).

Students brought in family photographs and artefacts from the past to help them to discuss significant family events, answer questions about the past and compare objects from the past to the present.

Students brought in a wide range of photos that showed: old cars, grandparents having picnics when they were young, grandparents weddings and grandparents in the army. Some of the artefacts that students brought in included: hickery golf clubs, a lighter from the Spanish Civil War, an old pen set, a school satchel, a bonnet, a glass bouy, a gramophone, a gold pan, teddie bears, an old cloth book, tools and hand shears.

The students loved looking back at old photos and learning a little bit about their families and the artefacts brought in.

“I really liked looking back at the old photos.” Ben

“I liked looking at the old things that others brought in. I really liked Mason’s old golf clubs.” Tom

“I liked looking at all the stuff and learning about how things worked a long time ago.” Jaxon

Below are some photos of the images and artefacts that student brought in.

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iPads in Maths and Science

During this term Tanya Hacket has introduced the iPads as a tool to support and engage students in Maths and Science. Tanya has kindly written an explanation of her use of the iPad in the classroom (see below) explaining the benefits she has found when using this tool. Tanya’s use of the iPads can be viewed through the Learning Design framework as a strategy that engages, challenges and supports students with their learning.

ipad-airConcepts relating to fractions has been an area where students have really struggled to fully understand. Gaining a good understanding requires a combination of visual and physical activities and plenty of repetition. This term both the year 7 and 8 math groups have covered fractions, so prior to starting the units I explored the many different apps that were available. I found Pizza Fractions 3 was great for showing the concept of equivalent fractions using visual images. Zombie Math Force was a fun way to show the link between fractions, decimals and percentages while with Equivalent Fractions students created another two equivalent fractions to the one shown. The year 7 students had access to these apps for one lesson per week over the unit. When assessing this unit, all of the year 7 students were able to create equivalent fractions.

In the year 8 group are several students who have low numeracy skills. Using several basic number apps including one with a multiplication tables focus (Multiply Wiz) the iPad is helping them to improve their skills with number. 

Unfortunately I have not found many suitable apps for my Science lessons (if anyone would like to share some great Science apps in the comments that would be great). However, recently I used the camera and notes feature on the iPads in one of my lessons. The focus of the lesson was Classification and using dichotomous keys to identify invertebrates. Two years ago when I designed this task, students found bugs in the yard, drew sketches of them and wrote about the location and features of the bug. While I still wanted students to sketch the bugs, instead of taking paper and pencil outside, they each had an iPad. Students took photographs of the bugs they found using the iPad camera app and recorded their location in the notes app. Once back in the room, students swapped photographs using AirDrop (an great function allowing files to be shared wirelessly between iPads) giving them access to a wider range of bugs. They drew sketches of the bugs using the photographs, without having to worry about the moth flying away or trying to see the ant. By using the iPads, students achieved in one lesson what had previously taken two lessons.

Next term when I will be teaching algebra concepts I have found several apps which I hope will help students understand equations using the arcade game format which will make the repetition needed challenging, but fun.

Tanya Hacket, Port Broughton Area School

Students comments about using the iPads included:

“It helps you learn more about fractions, helps you to understand. It is good there is a choice of apps. I don’t have to learn just one way.” Nash, Year 7

“The apps help you understand what you did wrong. It is an easier way to focus on the maths. It helped me focus on the topic and was easier to work out were I was at and what I was doing than a text book.” Jared, Year 7

This is a great example of using technology in a way that is not focused on the technology but focused on the learning. It is engaging and challenging students while supporting their classroom learning. The iPads are easily accessible, the students using the iPads can work with the whole class (not away in a computer suite) and they are increasing the efficiency of work flow in the classroom.