The 3 Best Student Response Systems

Student response systems are possibly the fastest way to up your technology game. They are simple, inexpensive and much easier than years past. You get out more than you put in if you use students response systems. The days of using expensive devices that look like garage openers and need the support of a school technology expert are over.

Today’s student response systems are often free, many times web-based and user-friendly. Best of all they are gamified and work across devices. If you are pressed for time, then you can often use a popular quiz created by another teacher. Socrative allows you to share a quiz with another teacher and “Kahoot!” allows you to search a database. Plickers allows students to hold up cards as a teacher scans the crowd for answers and yes it actually works. All of the student response systems listed here are free!

1) Kahoot
I rate Kahoot! as the best student response system because it is simple and gamified. I rate Kahoot! as the most user-friendly of the class. You can create several different types of Kahoots. It is also the most popular of all the student response systems. Most important is Kahoot! is fun.

Teachers create a quiz, survey, jumble or a discussion. With a jumble, you just put several words in order. A quiz would have a right answer, and a survey would be an opinion. Kahoot! has awesome features like adding an image or a video. You can even add an introduction video. There are apps for Apple and Android devices. Students can use their Smartphone or any computer with internet.

2) Plickers
This is a free app on the iTunes and Google Play stores. Students hold up cards with their answers, and the teacher scans the room with the app using the camera of the iPad, Android tablet or smartphone. It is a fun and simple app to use. You create a roster for your class. You can even cut and paste the roster in the app. Plickers has 40 different cards that can be printed out. Each student is assigned a card that is also numbered. Each card has a shape with different letters on each side of the shape. If the student wants to answer “A,” then that letter should be on top of the card that is held up. The teacher asks the question, and each student holds up a card. The teacher scans the crowd with the camera of a tablet or Smartphone. The teacher gets instant feedback. The scanning of cards is so ingenious it almost does not seem possible. I assure you it actually does work. You need enough light in the room and make sure the students don’t place a figure over part of the shape. When used correctly Plickers is seamless and tremendous fun. The app is very user-friendly. I highly recommend trying Plickers. The good news is you only need one device.

3) Socrative
This is a very good free web-based student response system. Socrative can be used with all types of computer devices. You can use it with computers, tablets, and smartphones. Socrative has apps for Chrome, iPad, Windows and Android devices. Socrative can grade the quizzes that you create. A teacher could give a test with Socritive and download a report with all the information. With Socrative you can play a competitive game. Since it is web-based, you can use any computer that has the internet.


The Importance of Teaching Art to Disabled Children

When we think of using technology with disabled children we often think of big clunky devices. The new generation of technology can be used on a computer or tablet and it looks no different than technology that you already have in your classroom.

Technology in school for the disabled is often thought of enabling them to access the curriculum. That usually translated into helping with the academic or core subjects like reading, writing, and math. We are not graduating academics we are graduation people. Individuals with disabilities should have the same opportunities as everyone one else. They should feel valued and empowered as every other student in the school. This is possible with technology.

Children with physical disabilities lack the physical dexterity to manipulate traditional forms of artwork. Our response is to do what you are able to or just do your best. With technology, these limitations are a lot less than you might think.

With an iPad, you can take a picture of the worksheet that a preschooler is coloring in and then draw on the picture with any number of art programs. Essentially, any art app that allows you to import a picture can be used for this task. The overwhelming majority of art apps have this capability. All you need is one finger that moves to use an art app. It can be printed out with a network printer that has AirPrint. Then, simply hang it up on the refrigerator. Think of the joy the parents will feel and how the child will feel just like everyone else.

What I use:

I use Snaptype to take the picture and crop the image. Then, I simply open the image in another app. On the top of Snapetype is a box with an arrow. That symbol universally means that you can transfer the file to anther app or location. After clicking on the box/arrow just click on the app you want. I personally like Art Studio but you can always pick an art app that fits your specific needs.

Why art on a tablet works so well:

The learning curve for creating artwork on a tablet is very short. The apps are so intuitive. Simply touch the icons on the app and then the drawing area. Fear of technology is what stops many from trying using something like this. The cost of an app is very little and many art apps are free.

There are other benefits. You never run out of materials. There is no mess to clean up. Also, children can create as many pieces of artwork as they want. This allows students to take risks and be very creative with art. If he or she does not like what they have created then the child can delete it and create another. Try ripping up your artwork during class and then asking to create another one. Socially that does not work so well.

Who this works with:

Tablet artwork works with all populations. Anyone can create it. It gives you the advantage of digital artwork with the feel of traditional artwork. Children with physical disabilities and coordination issues will benefit the most. Children with sensory issues like autism will like this form of artwork. A child with autism might not like working with clay, touching glue or paint. However, the sensation of touching a glass tablet does not provoke that same response.

If you talk to parents of children with disabilities what they notice is different than you think. Seeing a child on a ball field or not being included with a friend is devastating. Hanging artwork on the refrigerator sounds so trivial until it is out of reach for your child. People with disabilities get the message they are not as important as others. This comes from exclusion. This can be expressed in little ways because adults think some tasks are out of reach. With technology, the number of tasks that are out of reach is fewer than in the past. Most or all schools have tablets with a camera and the art apps are cheap. The joy they can bring to a child and their family is priceless.

Creating Art on an iPad

Art created on an iPad gives you the feel of creating traditional art and has the advantage of the modern digital art. When you teach artwork with programs like Photoshop you lose the feel of making actual artwork. Moving a mouse is just not the same as the hands on feeling of a tablet. Photoshop is a program that has every feature imaginable.  Apps target specific things and are far more intuitive. The best part of teaching art with iPad apps is the learning curve is so short. Students will quickly learn the different tools on the app.

There are other advantages that you might not have thought of. You do not have to worry about creating a mess. At no time will you run out of supplies. Students can experiment and create several pieces of artwork. True experimentation with art can take place because of the unlimited resources of digital art.

Teachers still need to lead and set goals for students. Students should not just create anything. The learning curve is much shorter than you think and some of your time can be spent on learning the art app. If students have no idea of what to do they can simply touch the tablet and see what happens. Most of your time should be spent on guiding the students in the creation of art and facilitating creativity in general. It not to say students will not have questions about how to use the app. The amount of time you spend on it will be less.

If you teach art with iPads apps you will add a powerful tool that and a high-interest activity. The best part is that it is by far much easier to add this tool to what you are doing than teaching a traditional software program.

ArtStudio for iPad – draw, paint and edit photo Best of Class Author’s Pick
This is an amazing sketchpad and photo editor. I highly recommend this awesome app.
ArtStudio Caricature Tutorial Part 1- Quick and Easy
ArtStudio Caricature Tutorial Part 2- Advanced

Inspire Pro — Create Art, Paint, Draw & Sketch
This app has a massive amount of tools to create realistic digital artwork.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch
This highly rated app has a large number of tools to work with.

Procreate – Sketch, paint, create.
This is a very popular drawing app with a ton of features.


Suggestions for Adding a Green Screen to your Makerspace

Green Screen

There are many ways to make a green screen. You can hang a large curtain, paint a wall green, or use a large sheet of plywood. In a library where the masses gather it is a good idea to have a green screen that is astatically pleasing. You probably do not want walls that do not match or a sheet of plywood. To get started you might want to try an inexpensive King sized sheet. If this is something that becomes a popular part of the library then you should strongly consider a green curtain or backdrop.

Green Screens

LimoStudio Photo Video Photography Studio 9x13ft Green Fabricated Chromakey Backdrop Background Screen, AGG1855
This is a large curtain that you can hang in your library.

LimoStudio Photo Video Studio 10Ft Adjustable Muslin Background Backdrop Support System Stand, AGG1112
You can hang the green screen from this.

Fancierstudio Chromakey Green Chromakey Blue Collapsible Backdrop Collapsible Reversible Background 5’x7′ Chroma-Key Blue/Green By Fancierstudio RE2010 BG
This screen is very good if you want to show people sitting or standing as long as you do not show the ground.

Fovitec StudioPRO – 1x 7’6″ Pop Out Muslin Backdrop & Reflector Clip Stand – [Includes Light Stand and Clip][Backgrounds Sold Separately]
This is the stand that you probably also want to buy.


Having professional looking lighting will impress people that observe the change you made in the library.

Westcott Illusions uLite 2-Light Green Screen Photo Lighting Kit
You can buy good lighting to help enhance the picture quality when taking photos or recording in front of a green screen.

Green Screen Apps

Veescope Live Green Screen App Full
This is a very good green screen app.

Green Screener
This is a highly rated green screen app.

Green Screen by Do Ink
This is a simple and very popular green screen app.

Chroma Key Touchup
This app allows you to make adjustments to your pictures that were taking on a green screen.

Green Screen Suit

LimoStudio Photo Video Chromakey Green Suit Green Chroma Key Body Suit for Photo Video Effect, AGG779
They make full body green screen suits. LimoStudio makes a highly rated product at a fair price. It is a safe choice. There are a number of companies that make full-body green screen suits. It is a good idea to shop around and read reviews.