Increase student voice, track results.
PROS: I love how easy it is to create and modify seating arrangements. I find the website to be intuitive and user friendly, therefore accessible for all technology comfort levels. Depending on your grade level, the energy required for the initial prep work to set up our class(es) can range from minimal to more substantial. I started the year with 190 students and I would guess it took me about 30 minutes to type in all of the new names. In the past I have used a high school TA to help with this process and they were easily able to navigate from class to class with limited direction from me. Some of my students are students I have had in the past, so it was easy to transfer them to the new class period and avoid re-typing their information. It is also very quick to add new students to a class directly from the seating chart. Before I started calling on students using the "random student" feature, there were only a select handful of kids that would volunteer answers. I instantly noticed an increase in student voice once I began using it and subsequently found more students starting to volunteer answers. It gave me a better understanding of where my students are at as a whole and I like that I can go back at anytime to review a record of responses for specific students (think IEP feedback).
CONS: The program was clearly designed with elementary grades in mind, so I find some of the visual aspects a little immature. Each student is automatically assigned a random avatar and while some of them reflect positive or silly behavior, others reflect sad or negative moods. You can change individual avatars under the settings, but it can be time consuming when you have multiple classes. Additionally, you can change the seating view to have a basic silhouette image, however it routinely defaults back to the avatars. I end up changing the view to a silhouette, printing the seating charts (another pro feature!), and then displaying them under the document camera.
How I Use It
I primarily use this website at the high school level for two features. 1) SEATING CHARTS - Quickly arrange and re-arrange seats based on a variety of factors you can set, Ex: group vs. spread out students with IEPs. You can also "pin" students with special seat requirements to specific locations. 2) TRACKING participation and response accuracy - Students were shy to answer questions voluntarily, so I started using the "random student" feature to call on them. Overall participation increased as students became more comfortable speaking aloud and time on task increased because students knew they could be randomly called on at any moment. Easily track correct/incorrect responses as students are called on, as well as other behaviors you can choose to track (select from a list or customize yourself), such as "contributing" or "texting." I have yet to use the report features or incorporated student/parent accounts. I do not use it as a behavior reward system, but could see how this could be effective and motivating at the elementary level.