NORMAL - A classroom tool is clicking with Twin Cities students and teachers.
While some public school teachers and university professors have used the devices for at least three years, a burst of grants and other funding this year is putting the student response systems, known as clickers, into more classrooms.
"It makes studying more fun. It did help me memorize the information," said Kingsley Junior High School eighth-grader Tim Barnes of Normal.
Students hold a remote device and respond to a teacher's questions with a click of a button. Answers appear on a classroom screen.
Barnes, in a social studies class taught by Jennifer Ritchason, scored high on a practice quiz and review about World War I. First, his teacher showed a video and reviewed the material.
On some questions, every student had the correct answer; other times, closer to half knew the right answer. The results showed the teacher where a little more work might be needed.
"It's instantaneous feedback," said Ritchason, who piloted a project last year and got the devices permanently in her class through a $2,000 grant from Beyond the Books.
"Our class needs to learn by doing," said eighth-grader Tayo Adanri, 13, whose comments were included in Ritchason's grant request. "It makes people want to learn."
Connie Stanczak, who teaches fourth grade at Grove Elementary School, received a $9,706 grant from Ronald McDonald Charities of Central Illinois. She bought four clicker systems, a tape player that can accommodate eight sets of earphones, and 32 books, all used in tandem with the classroom [interactive whiteboard].
"We are proud of our fellow UFEA member, Connie Stanczak . for her efforts in securing a significant grant to be used to enhance the learning opportunities at her school," said Unit Five Education Association president Vickie Mahrt at the Dec. 8 school board meeting.
Stanczak said students like the clickers. "When I say we're going to get our clickers out; they say 'Yes!'" she said.
Board president Meta Mickens-Baker said the program allows teachers to give students individual attention, and is an example of a community partnership providing educational opportunities.
Mike Jones, a science teacher at Bloomington Junior High School, has been using clickers for at least three years. "It's nice for kids (because) they get to see how they are doing right away," he said. "They are pretty keen."
Jones likes the opportunity for more students to be involved. "It gives everyone their own voice," he said.