Using Classtalk for Active Learning in the Classroom

Pinpointing Misconceptions

Classstalk can be used in any size classroom, lab or lecture hall to send questions or problems. The students enter their answers on palmtops, laptops or handheld calculators, and you see the responses immediately on a seating diagram and a histogram which automatically categorizes the responses. You can identify right, wrong and "almost right" responses, and also include leading questions designed to identify misconceptions. You can also send the class results histogram to an overhead projector (or TV) a overhead projector (or TV) to show how the class is split on this issue and use this to invite volunteers in each group to explain their thinking.

Peer Instruction with Confidence Levels

Ask the class to answer a question or problem as individuals, and enter their confidence level (Classtalk allows multiple inputs so the question and confidence level can both be entered). Then ask them to break into groups of 3 or 4, and convince your neighbors of your answer, and then enter a revised answer if you wish! This can be done in a large lecture hall as well as a classroom. (source: Mazur, Harvard)


Stimulating Debate - Cooperative Learning

Classtalk reveals that the class is roughly divided between right and wrong answers.
You choose one student from each side (using the seating chart) to "defend"their case. The rest of the class is invited to join in. They debate until one side convinces the other. (source: Swackhammer, Glenbrook North H.S.)  


Electronic Quizzes & Pretesting

If you wait until the exam to find out the class missed a lesson, you may not have time to correct the misconceptions and learning gaps. Pretesting can help surface and correct problems before the test. Tell the students the pretesting is designed to help them deal with material on the test.


Classtalk allows you to pretest electronically via question sets and immediately gives the results to you and the students (you don't have to grade them manually and wait till the next class for results). (source: Swanson & Roddy, Sandhills Community College)


Using Variables Provided by the Class
Describe an experiment to the class. Ask them to calculate and enter the result, then show the class their own responses by category (actual numbers or ranges) and run the experiment to see what really happens. Another variation: solicit the variable, calculate the class average and use it to run the experiment or demonstration (we've had some interesting results doing this--for one simulation, we found the average is almost always correct!).


Soliciting Opinions

A Classtalk task doesn't have to be a question or problem. You can show an experiment, video clip, animation or any other information using standard media, then ask for an "opinion" or other input.

Allowing Students to Query the Instructor During Class

If your class is a "querulous" group, you can send an "open-ended"task which accepts a sentence response, and leave the task running to allow students to enter questions or comments. Classtalk will automatically log all questions which can be addressed during class, or the next session.


Compare Different Class Results

Classtalk archives the FULL class session, so you can compare all results from one class with another (i.e. term to term, morning versus evening class etc.)

Alternative Conceptions

Ask conceptual questions in which the distracters are common but incorrect beliefs of students. Then, ask questions in a Socratic manner that help students alter and correct their misconceptions. (source: Alan Van Heuvelen, Ohio State University)


Evaluating Homework

Send an open question set before students enter class and have them enter their answers to selected homework questions as soon as they login. Autobin their answers to help evaluate difficulties and deal with them before starting new material. (source: Jan Andrews math teacher, Tabb Middle School) Another variation: Use a brief "login quiz" of m/c questions to see if students have done their reading assignments. (source: Eric Mazur, Harvard Physics Prof.)

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