How I Use It
I entered the Fall term of 2013 ‘pondering’ how I will address an ever-present classroom issue: How do I entice the quiet student to participate in class discussions? The causes for reticence is varied. Some students may be tackling self-esteem issues while others may harbor cultural inhibitions toward public speaking or similar performance-imbued activities. Of course, we can’t ignore the student who is simply unmotivated about the course. The end result is unavoidable: I can’t properly gauge a student’s understanding of readings and discussions. Using exams to assess comprehension and analysis is inappropriate since exams are usually high stakes and infrequent to provide timely feedback.
Any solution would have to have the following qualities:
- serve as an assessment tool
- lack all the elements that foster the inhibitions
- available to student and teacher before, during, and after school.
- generate quantitative and qualitative data on student performance.
I came across the Ponder service in Aug. 2013. The service outwardly appeared to address all my expectations, but the proof would have to come under real world conditions. I chose to integrate Ponder during the Fall term with 200 9th grade students. In the five months that elapsed, I can enthusiastically endorse Ponder. It met, if not exceeded, all of my expectations.
In addition to meeting the expectations listed above, I wish to share these observations:
- Students found the application intuitively simple. Little preparation was required.
- Time dedicated to document reading and analysis could be moved outside the classroom. Time was now available to discuss the documents in class.
- Students from different classes could now interact with each other. This was impossible in the traditional sence.
- The data generated was continuous and timely. It provided a multi-dimensional interpretation of student/ document interaction.
- Normally reticent students became active. They were able to interact with classmates and contribute to group analysis of documents in a non-threatening environment.
- The Ponder staff were enthusiastic and worked arduously to solve any and all issues that arose. They encouraged feedback and my students and I obliged unapologetically. I was happy to see that this partnership resulted in a significant upgrade to the service, it’s accompanying mobile platform, and browser plugins.
While I have an affinity for technology integration, most of my colleagues do not. If they use technology, it must be simple, dependable, and deliver what it promises. Ponder satisfies all three.