Texting with Activexpressions

Today BrainPOP was visited by one of Promethean’s super-talented TLC’s, Ben Posner. Ben showed us Promethean’s new Activexpression devices and helped us brainstorm ways to use them with BrainPOP. Activexpressions are Student Response Systems, or SRS devices. If you’re not familiar with SRS devices, they allow teachers to get instant feedback on what each student knows or has to say. Newer SRS devices allow students to respond in a variety of ways; the Activexpression devices even allow students to text short answers with a mobile-phone like design.

One topic we explored was how students could use SRS devices like Activexpression to write collaboratively. For example, In BrainPOP’s Thirteen Colonies Activity: “Think About It,”, each student could use the devices to text one reason why colonial immigrants and modern immigrants have similar reasons for coming to America. Their various texted responses would appear on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room. Then the class could decide how to arrange or edit the various responses into one paragraph.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited that students can now put those texting skills to work for an educational purpose! What are your thoughts? Are you already using SRS with BrainPOP in your classroom? Tell us about it!

  • M. Hagan

    It is about time that those texting skills are being tapped into. Yes, the students are great at texting, but it doesn’t help them to further their education unless it is used by teachers as you suggested for Brainpop.
    Some students would rather text their answers to a whiteboard than speak the answers in class. Activeexpressions helps them express what they are thinking, if they are thinking.

  • T

    I am hesitant about this new technology. Encouraging text?? I understand that it is important to remain culturally aware of our students, but if we allow kids to text answers rather than speak them aloud, how will they learn to speak up and interact in authentic social or business settings? As tech savvy as I hope to be one day, I hope this new method does NOT take off!

  • Jenny

    I am a student teacher in a second-grade classroom with a Smart Board (which I LOVE and hope to be fortunate enough to have one in my own classroom someday), but our classroom does not (yet) use the SRS that comes with it. Another second-grade teacher, who is often referred to as the Tech Guru by older teachers, has her students use theirs every day. If it were completely my classroom, I would give the SRS a try before shunning it.

    I definitely agree with the point that T makes that students need to be able to speak well in front of a group. I do believe that the SRS is a tool that can provide other opportunities. One might even go so far as to argue that it could help build self-esteem… each child has a chance to participate in the group work taking place.

    Technology is advancing so quickly, it wouldn’t be right to try to suppress it. For many young people, these things feel like second-nature. As for learning good social behaviors, teachers are beginning to have to teach students about communication skills anyway, since many of them do not learn those skills at home anymore – one more thing to pile on a teacher’s plate right? :) Manners, respectfulness, sharing, compromise, cooperation, compassion and empathy…

    I suppose this is why I look at these devices eagerly… I hope it will streamline lessons and maximize the time we have with our students.

  • http://www.brainpop.com/educators Allisyn

    Thanks so much for your comments. You all bring up thoughtful, valid points. Is anyone else already using SRS in your classrooms? Tell us about it! What kind of impact is it having on your students? What about your teaching? It seems like an exciting new possibility worth getting to know well enough to integrate as a regular teaching tool. Let’s here from those of you who are using them already!

  • http://www.brainpop.com/educators Tim Clark

    The best thing about using Activexpressions with the IWB and BrainPOP is that students can text information to the board. For example, on the Rights and Responsibilities flipchart that I created, there is a page with a T-chart with one column labeled Rights and the other column labeled Responsibilities. I told the students to text a right or a responsibility to the board. Then we were able to have a discussion and drag their text boxes to the appropriate columns. Also, since BrainPOP has several templates available through their Resource Pack on Promethean Planet, I have been able to include them in flipcharts. For example, I developed a flipchart with some students on The Causes of the Civil War. Using the Tim and Moby Venn Diagram template, we labeled one side North and the other side South. The students were able to text items to the board that described either the North or the South, and we dragged those items to the appropriate places on the diagram.

    I like using BrainPOP Jr. when I work with students because there are so many activities that can either be used directly or with the IWB. Many of the printable activities can also be modified with a little creativity to make them interactive, and it saves on paper, too! For example, the ice cream cone activity in the Similes flipchart. I used the camera tool to select the various parts of the ice cream cone and paste them into the flipchart. The students could then drag those pieces together to assemble the ice cream cone and label them with their similes. The students loved using the camera tool and making these activities for themselves. They really had to think outside the box to transfer a print activity to the IWB.

    Flipcharts look more professional when the colors blend well together. If I use a character from BrainPOP’s Resource Pack, I will use the color picker tool from the IWB toolstrip to select a color from the character – like the red color of Annie’s hair ribbons to fill the background color of the flipchart page or accent boxes and frames. It is an easy way to look like you are one of the BrainPOP designers!

  • kassandra roberts

    i think texting would be great! i am 16years young, and i think if the schools started to use this method in class, kids wouldnt be late, or skip the class because its “boring”. i would love it!!

  • http://www.brainpop.com/educators Allisyn

    Well, even though this site is meant for parents and teachers, it’s great to hear a student’s perspective. So thanks, Kassandra! So many times I get caught up in discussions about education with other educators, I forget to ask students their opinions, so this was a great reminder!

  • Heather

    I have a set of Activexpressions in my classroom and we do use them with BrainPOP. Up to this point we have used them primarily for showing their answers to the multiple choice questions after the videos. I do have the kids use the texting feature in other ways in class. The biggest benefit I see is allowing all the students to share their ideas simultaneously. I don’t usually have the time to go around and ask every kids to share their answer. This way they all pop up and they can be “seeded” to a flipchart page. They can then be discussed and/or organized as Tim Clark mentioned. It isn’t anything to be scared of.