How did it get to be the 23rd? Jeeze Louise, I have been out to lunch lately… Well they say that the longer you teach a particular grade level, they more you become like the students. I already had a head start on that before I started teaching 7th graders.

Have I already said that 7th graders are some of the most conservative people on the planet? Well, I’m going to say it again. Seventh graders are some of the most conservative people on the planet. By conservative, I mean resistant to change. I know I have said that middle schoolers crave routine, even as they claim they don’t. Well, this quality has been on full display for the past couple of days, because I borrowed a set of another, more high-tech version of CPS clickers, and we’ve been test-driving them. Watching the kids’ reactions has been just as much fun as playing with the new clickers.

They (the new clickers) look quite different from the ones we’ve been using.

New School RF Clicker
Old School Blue Clicker
Old School Blue IR Clicker

The first kid through the door stops at the clicker bag and does a classic cartoon double-take.

“I like the old ones better. These are too big.”

(me) “No, they’re not as easy to use as a fingerboard.”

“Look how cool; there are more buttons to push.”

(me) “It eliminates the red X. Ha ha ha.” (With the blue clickers, if they choose an answer outside the the choices given – like trying to click C, when the choices are only A and B – the grid on the lcd projection that shows who has responded flashes a red X. Some – many – of the kids like to click in their answers early and then just hit that red X like a monkey in a drug experiment. Since we’re testing different feature with these new clickers, we won’t be seeing the grid. )

“D’oh! I like the old ones better.”

Then one of them thinks it looks like a phone, holds it up to her head, and starts having an imaginary conversation. Pretty quickly, two-thirds of the class is chatting away on their PlaySkool stylie phones.

These clickers are radio frequency (like a cell phone) rather than infrared like the blue ones, so they don’t have to have line-of-sight with the receiver; they can point them anywhere. So they do. Oh yes they do. It does eliminate the “Kung-Fu Clicking” that sometimes happens when they have shaken the batteries loose in their blue clicker by using it as a fingerboard, and they’re trying to get their click to register.

Some of them like the “ergonomic” recess in the back for your index finger. Some think it’s stupid, because their fingers don’t fit. Some think they’re too big, but others like the little non-skid rubber pads on the bottom (which might keep the fines for droppage to a minimum). It’s something new; it’s all too much.

Another groovy feature is that, since each has its own little screen, you don’t need an lcd projector for clicking in paper tests – what we call all-at-once kind of clicking. The kids can tell what question they’re on by looking at their clicker. And the beauty part is that when you turn off your projector, and just look at your screen, you can watch the kids responses in real time, color-coded red and green for wrong and correct answers. I was behind my desk, calling Friday’s test like a horse race.

“So far we have 4 of you with them all correct…wait, make that three. Nathan’s going to be hard to beat for the magic clicker this week.”

“Cindy, it looks like you studied your vocabulary…nice.”

“D’oh, it looks like quite a few of you didn’t read last night; the Tom Sawyer section is looking ugly.”

“Jaime, you are 3 correct answers from avoiding SSI. I’d go back and look at the pronouns section of the test, and see if I could find a couple of answers to flip.”

And etc. It was a lot of fun. For me.

The jury is still out on whether they are worth 1/3 more in price. We have them until Friday.