Monday, June 3, 2013

Chapter 25: Smart Cards

Smart Cards are a new addition to WBT strategies. Evaluate their effectiveness. 

Pages 162-168
Full credit: 25 WBT Certification Points
Partial credit: 10 WBT Certification Points


  1. Smart Cards are 3 X 5 index cards with Yes on one side and No on the other. It can also be used with a red (no) and green (yes) card glued together. I like to laminate both versions so that they withstand their frequent use. The strategy is used when the teacher needs to determine skills level understanding in a non-threatening way for students who might not have reached the same mastery level as their peers. After each answer card is returned to the desk in the unvote position. This assures that each student is making his own response rather than cuing off a peer’s card choices.

    Smart Cards are a quick and fun way to check fluency on any number of skills such as math, language arts, preview/review and my favorite…assignments/instructions. By using Smart Cards the student reviews take on a game show element that the students find motivating. It is a quick way to determine if students understand a concept AS teachers are teaching it. It’s much more effective to immediately re-teach a concept that isn’t understood rather to allow a student to scaffold additional information on to a misunderstood skill or concept.

    For my special education classes it is very important for me to frequently assess understanding in ways that don’t single out or embarrass a student. Smart Cards along with yes/no way and cuties thumbs up and thumbs down give a variety of methods to quickly assess interest or understanding without wasting classroom time. Having an actual card to hold up for yes/no responses may be helpful for some students who have difficulty with directionality and reverse thumbs up/thumbs down meanings. It is just another excellent example of how effective teaching methods do not have to be expensive or complicated.

  2. Kathy,
    Nice job! I appreciate your comment about the cards and learning style accommodations: "Having an actual card to hold up for yes/no responses may be helpful for some students who have difficulty with directionality and reverse thumbs up/thumbs down meanings." Here are 25 points for you!

  3. I absolutely love the idea of Smart Cards! It is a quick and easy way for teachers to determine if the class is getting what is being taught. There is always the problem of students who are unsure of the answer to try to follow other students. This happens all the time with the thumbs up, thumbs down process. Using Smart Cards makes it a little more difficult for students to do this.

    Personally, I think I prefer the white cards over the color cards. I think the color cards would be easier for the teacher to tell at a glance how the class is doing; however, I think it also makes it easier for those unsure students to sneak a peak. With the white cards, it is harder for others to sneak a peak.

    I also like the “vote, unvote” procedure. This will also eliminate some of the sneaking peaks. So, all in all, I think the Smart Cards are a wonderful idea!

  4. Cheryl
    Practice cards are very helpful to teachers for quick feedback and informal assessment. One little vocabulary word got you! peak/peek Here are 20 points.

  5. Even though I am lucky enough to have a Smart Board, an iPad cart and a laptop cart for my students to use, I love the idea of Smart Cards for a quick assessment. First, the Smart Card is something that the students can use quickly, without having to get electronic equipment out, log in, etc. I think they could be used for a number of assessments in my reading class, such as choosing the correct genre (is this fiction: yes/no).

    One point I liked was that when a child answers, they are to put their card down until the next question is asked. I have used dry erase boards in a similar way and there are always those children that want to peek at everyone else’s answer. By having the cards down, it would be very evident if a child is waiting to see everyone else's cards first. But, my favorite point was that the students “…should not be encouraged to guess”. (163) I like the option of holding the card with the edge pointing to the teacher, showing that the student is unsure. This takes the pressure off of the student that just doesn’t understand, or may just simply have forgotten the answer. This again makes the classroom feel like a safe place to learn for those lower achieving students, as well as those students that are always afraid to make a mistake.

    I wonder if the cards could be used in small groups as well? It could be possible to have the literature circle leaders (or the leader from the Scoreboard activity) ask questions about the book, with the other group members using their cards to answer. Then, they could debate the different thought processes using the Because Clapper. Even though the cards are focused on “yes” or “no” type answers, they are still a very applicable way to gain a quick overview of the level of the students’ basic understanding of the skill being presented.

    1. Michelle,
      Well written post! Great idea for encouraging critical thinking within a small group setting. Here are 25 points for you!

  6. Smart Cards are a very low-tech, cost effective way to assess student comprehension of material. Each student is given either one or two index cards. Labeled with "Yes" and "No," they can be used any time the teacher needs to check student understand. They are a good alternative to small, hand-held white boards and computer, hand-held clickers.

    It's painful to admit, but I have a bad habit of teaching until bell time. I am aware of this and am conscious of managing my time more wisely. Smart Cards would be very effective with time management. If I added this activity into my lesson plans and used them consistently, it would definitely help me manage time.

    Smart Cards could also be a great way to quickly track student understanding of daily topics. Too often teachers wait until test results to discover students that did not master material. By then, it is too late to review because new material must be taught. I think I will use a class roster with the cards so I can mark students that need more help.

    Too often, the teacher will review content by calling on individual students. Smart Cards provide a good effective way to assess all students at the same time. Finally, they provide the teacher with a great way to monitor the "underperforming student." These kids have a knack for sliding under the radar. Many wait until others speak answers and then repeat those answers, or they just agree with the majority of the class. Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids suggests Smart Cards be used with voting. After a question has been given, students quickly "vote" by showing either their "Yes" or "No" card, and then, they quickly lower their card. This effective technique would not allow students "to see" other student's answers. I like this because I'll be able to get an accurate measure of student comprehension.

    As a tech junkie, I am very fortunate to have my own set of SMART Board Clickers. After reading this chapter, I definitely need to be using them more. I have never used Smart Cards, but I think they will be put to good use in my classroom this fall. This will certainly be a great, instant way to assess students at any level!

    Melinda Sprinkle

    1. Melinda,
      Nice post on the flexibility and usefulness of the Smart Cards! Here are 25 points!

  7. Many students are shy and will reluctantly raise their hands to answer oral questions. Sometimes students are afraid of getting the wrong answer and feel embarrassed. Therefore, they will not answer oral questions. This makes it difficult for teachers to assess what students understand. The solution is “Smart Cards.

    “Smart Cards” are simple index cards stapled together. One will be red with no writing on it and the other one will be green with the word yes written on it. Now these reluctant students will be able to answer without the fear of being embarrassed if they get the answer incorrect. Shy students are willing to raise a card rather than speak in class. The effectiveness of “Smart Cards” is that the playing field is equal and everyone participates in a nonthreatening environment. Now the teacher has a cheap tool to assess content understanding. Students will raise their cards to vote and lower their cards to unvote. Once students vote, they will quickly lower their cards to prevent other students from coping their answer.

    There is no need for fancy, expensive, equipment when using “Smart Cards.” They are just as effective as Smart Clickers.

    To review questions with multiple-choice questions, you can make “Smart Cards” labeled “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D,” or make True/False cards. The ease and effectiveness in the use of “Smart Cards” is endless. Teachers now have a great tool to add to their already arsenal of tricks to get the most reluctant students actively engaged in lessons. “Smart Cards, “ what a great concept.

    1. Debora,
      Good description of various Smart Cards for the classroom. You had a small editing error at the end of second paragraph. "...lower their cards to prevent other students from coping their answer." Here are 20 points!

  8. Although I have not had the opportunity to use the Smart Cards, I believe that they will be a very effective assessment tool for my Kindergarten classroom. No one likes to admit that they don’t understand something or know the correct answer. No one likes to be incorrect in front of their peers. “Underperformers spend their time masking their inabilities” (162) by not volunteering the answers and hoping the teacher passes them by during discussions. We can say, “that’s cool” at their mistakes, but they are still reluctant to try. The Smart Cards are a perfect tool to assess these silent underachievers, shy students and their peers.
    Smart Cards have so much appeal! They narrow down the answer options to either “yes” or “no”, which diminishes the chances that a student will make a mistake. The Smart Card hold up is so quick that it leaves no time for students to copy, judge, or change answers. Students are not encouraged to guess. They casually turn their card (edge out) to convey that they don’t know the answer. The color coding of red and green to relate to “no” and “yes” responses makes it very easy for my early readers to identify their answer. Shouting “Vote” and “UnVote” in the place of “teach-okay” is fun, fast, and quietly nonverbal. All of these characteristics also make it easy for the teacher to quickly look and take note of who is mastering the concepts and who needs remediation.
    Smart Cards can also be applied to any lesson or subject matter. Students can check simple facts and state if they are correct (yes) or incorrect (no). For example, in math they can vote on statements like ‘1 + 1 = 2’ (yes!) and ‘2 + 1 = 5’ (no!). In science, they can vote on statements like ‘a frog is an amphibian’ (yes) and ‘a spider is an insect’ (no). Students can extend their answers by voting and then moving on to Prove It! where an explanation is needed to support the answer in which they voted. Students can use Smart Cards to answer any closed questions during the QT of the lesson. I’m so excited about these Smart Cards that I am going to make them tonight!

    1. Jennifer,
      Well done! I like the illustrations of the various ways the cards might be used in your classroom! Here are 25 points!

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  10. I like the idea that the children can quickly get out a white index card that has "yes" written on one side and "no" written on the other. All students are actively involved in individually voting whether they believe the answer to the question is "yes" or "no" by silently holding up that side of the card. Instant assessment! I love that children are not encouraged to guess, but rather to hold their index card out towards the teacher, showing they are unsure. This is their secret signal that they can use without fear of being wrong or embarrassed. Furthermore, as the teacher, you truly know which students have mastered a concept and those who need additional practice.
    The expectation of how to use a Smart Card is clear and easy for students to understand. The teacher asks a question and says, "Vote." At that time the students hold up their answer. Once the teacher sees everyone's answer says, "Unvote" and the children lower their cards to their desks.

    There are endless opportunities to incorporate this informal assessment technique into classroom instruction. I plan to use Smart Cards to determine how many of my students understood important skills such as: complete sentences/fragments, synonyms/antonyms/homophones, similes/metaphors, nouns/verbs/adjectives, addition/subtraction math facts, ideas presented in social studies and science, and to review social emotional lessons taught. After certain votes I will say, "Prove it!" Students then turn to their teaching buddy and use the "Because Clapper" and "Example Popper" to justify the answer on their Smart Card. This is a meaningful way to enhance children's higher level thinking skills!
    Hooray for Smart Cards!

    -Shelley Nizynski Reese

    1. Shelley,
      Nicely done! The efficiency of this quick assessment benefits teacher and students! Here are 25 points!

  11. Chapter 25 – Smart Cards
    I like that Smart Cards, along with other components of WBT, are effective but cost efficient tools. Keeping the complete class engaged is powerful. Implementing Smart Cards into your lessons does this.

    Immediately after reading the first script I saw that there might be a problem with students copying their neighbor’s cards, especially in our crowded classrooms where students are often sitting side by side. The problem was addressed in the chapter. However, I am still worried they will be able to look at their neighbor’s answer by seeing the card left on the desk or glance at what they are holding up out of the corner of their eye. Keeping their Smart Cards on their lap and sliding them up to their chest will possibly help to minimize peeking.

    We have used thumbs up/thumbs down the same way smart cards are used in WBT, placing our hands discretely at our chest. However, I like that with Smart Cards students are not encouraged to guess. They use the edge pointing towards their teacher to show that they are uncertain. This is valuable information for the teacher. If I decide to continue with the method I used before, I will use a flat hand to show when they don’t know the answer. I appreciate all the suggestions on how to use Smart Cards across subject areas. The “Prove it!” is a wonderful addition to this exercise because it encourages critical thinking. This will be incorporated in my lessons this coming year.

    Catherine Cassaro

    1. Catherine,
      Good thoughts about Smart Cards. Here are 25 certification points!

  12. I love the Smart Card idea. It is a quick and easy assessment tool for the whole class. I don't have a Smart Board and having students use thumbs up/down/sideways can be a bit awkward. To prevent the problem of a student copying other students’ responses, I asked students to hold their hands in front of their chests. Sometimes the awkwardness of the position made the students’ responses hard to read. When students were agreeing or disagreeing with another student, disagreement could seem like giving the student a thumbs-down rather than the response. Smart cards would eliminate these problems.

    I will design my Smart Cards to maximize their effectiveness with my second grade students. To keep them at my students’ fingertips, I will place thin magnet strip tape on one side of the card. A card will be kept on the side of each student’s desk. I will divide the cards in half across the short side. I will write “Yes” in green on one side and, after rotating the card 180 degrees, write “No” in red on the other side. (See a sample image at the link below.) I will duplicate this on the back side, so students can easily see what they are showing me. I will have students hold the “Yes” in the right- side-up position in front of their chests for agreement. They will hold the “No” in the right-side-up position for disagreement. If the student is not sure, he can hold the card sideways with neither word in a right-side-up position. I will definitely use the un-vote procedure to ensure independent responses from all students.

    Sample image as described above:

    Diane Strickland

    1. Diane,
      Great thinking about the smart cards. Thanks for the picture, too. Keeping your cards magnetized to the desks will make sure they are always handy. Here are 25 certification points.

  13. In my school, we have two sets of smart board clickers. Like all technology, there always seems to be a problem and we cannot figure out how to get them to work with our smart boards. In the past, I have created sentence strips with A,B,C,D written on them and the student would move a clothespin under the correct answer. Unfortunately, these were hard to store and the other students could always see where their classmates had placed their clip on the sentence strip.

    The smart cards are the answers to determining whether a child is/does not understand the topic of discussion. Since the teacher can create these cards themselves, it will be easy for the teacher to visually read who has/has not gotten the answer correct. I believe the yes/no is more effective than my previous A,B,C,D or the clickers because they are quicker! As teachers, we want an instantaneous poll of the class that we do not have to go back and evaluate at the end of our day. We want to be able to change our instruction if students do not comprehend the lesson. I think the best part about the smart cards is telling the students to “Vote” and “Unvote”. This eliminates the chance for other students to look around the class at other students answers and change their answers. In every classroom, there will be students unable to answer the question and the smart cards allows those kids to point their card at the teacher, which shows the teacher the child is asking for help. Another step to prevent cheating which I will use in my classroom is having the students vote with their cards in front of their chest. I am excited to try these smart cards in my classroom as a quick oral quiz for record keeping.

    1. Laken, it sounds like this will be a great tool in your classroom! Here are 25 certification points!

  14. I have already been using Smart Cards, and I didn’t even know it! My version is even cheaper than the WBT version because it’s free. I pose questions to the class with a yes/no answer option. The students are all facing me, and all have their eyes on me. They have a hand resting on their chest. After I pose the question, the students put a thumbs up for “yes,” a thumbs down for “no,” and a sideways thumb for “I’m not sure.” The thumbs stay resting on the chest. If everyone is facing me and only has eyes on me, no one sees anyone else’s answer. I also use this to gage personal comfort with a topic. “Thumbs up if you think, ‘I’ve got this,’ thumbs to the side if you think, ‘I need to practice this a bit more,’ and thumbs down if you feel totally lost.” Both of these uses are helpful in my pacing of the lessons, knowing when we need to do more practice together, and are surprisingly accurate. Because the children keep their hands close to their chests and know no one is watching, they answer more honestly.

    I also use personal whiteboards for open-ended questions. Students use privacy screens and write answers down on their boards. When everyone has had a chance to answer, everyone holds the board up at the same time so no one has the opportunity to look around and change their answer. My principal provides the money for personal whiteboards at our school, but even those can be made fairly inexpensively.

    I love Smart Cards, or I guess in my case Smart Thumbs, because I am able to assess right then and there. With one visual sweep of the classroom I can tell where I need to go next in my lesson. The children also have no place to hide, but they feel comfortable answering honestly because only I see their answers, and there is no ridicule from me or from peers about how quickly they understand a topic. For all Student X knows, everyone answered the same as he did, and we all need to go back and practice some more. I love it!

    Meredith Pearson

    1. Meredith,
      You have some great methods of quick assesssment in your classroom! I would suggest adding the Smart Cards too, they can be made for pennies and would add to your quick assessment choices. This would help keep the students from getting bored with the thumbs up routine, and it is quick and easy to spot the colors across the room. Here are your 25 certification points!

  15. The Smart cards chapter had me running to my colored index cards with JOY! As soon as I read this chapter I was gluing green and red index cards and sending them through lamination. I have always been a huge thumbs up, thumbs down teacher. This is such a great way to facilitate the concepts of checking student’s understanding throughout lessons.

    In order to begin this task, you will need 3X5 index cards, for your students, with yes/no written on opposite sides or green and red construction or cardstock paper. I chose index cards that were red and green (I just happened to have some on hand.) Once glued together, lamination helps to keep them together.

    Smart cards are used in the classroom for voting or showing comprehension of taught lessons. I plan to use them in whole group, small group, and seatwork. When I ask a question, students quickly show their color in front of their body so that others around them cannot see very well.
    This can be used for true/false, agree/disagree, yes/no and many other variations.
    I also see using this as students are working at their desk. As I walk around, I can see the color cards on their desk either red or green. Green means they know what to do and are independent, red symbolizes they need help or are confused.
    Within partners, if students don’t agree they can discuss and play Prove-It to finalize a solution.
    Smart cards can also be used from the student’s standpoint when partners are retelling, summarizing, explaining their thinking… to their partner. If one student doesn’t understand what the partner is saying they can flip over their card to red and then flip to green when they understand.
    The possibilities are endless!

  16. Krystal,
    The Smart Cards will be an effective way to assess your students! You had a couple of minor mechanical errors, here are 10 Certification Points for your effort!

  17. Chapter 25: Smart Cards

    August 16, 2013

    The Smart Cards are an inexpensive way of taking a quick evaluation of the students understanding on any topic. The Smart Card can be made two ways. One way is to use 3 x 5 index cards. One side of the card will say yes, the other side of the card will say no. The second way is to glue two colors together, red for no and green for yes. While I think using the green and red cards will be easier to take a quick count, I think it will also allow students that are unsure of an answer to have an opportunity to follow the color their neighbor displays. For durability, the cards could be laminated. When you are ready for students to hold up a card, you say “vote.” After you have counted the votes, you say "unvote" and students will put their card on their table. By having students put their card down on the table, it will help make it a little harder for someone to copy their neighbor. I also like that the students are encouraged not to guess what the answer may be. If they are not sure, the students just hold their card flat with the edge pointing toward the teacher. If at least 80% of the class gets the answer correct, then you can continue teaching. If less than 80% answer correctly you need to reteach. Taking a few minutes to know where the class is on a topic before continuing will help me make sure I am not leaving students behind. In the past, I have had students hold a thumbs up or down to questions when I was taking a pulse of the classes' understanding. Counting thumbs was a little more challenging than counting the cards will be. I feel this strategy will be effective for me to help my students be successful.

  18. Terri,
    The Smart Cards will be a great variation from your "thumbs up" game, and as you pointed out, they make it easier to count results. Here are 25 points for you!

  19. Smart Cards are a low tech way to get high tech data. With a class set of 3x5 cards marked with Yes on one side and No on the other, a teacher can quickly assess students on their understanding of a topic. Ask a series of yes or no questions. Students hold up the card that corresponds to the answer they want. If they’re not sure, they can hold the card long ways. It’s similar to the thumbs up, down, or sideways ways to check for understanding. The kids will enjoy smart cards because they have the cards in their hands. Addition of “Vote” and “Unvote” will make the game even more fun. Smart cards give students a way to answer questions honestly without putting themselves out there. Even the really quiet kids can get the same opportunity to answer questions. Personally, I think I would modify Smart Cards to two separate cards of the same color. I may get more accurate information. I would think my non-front row kids may look at the kids in front of them before deciding.

    Gwenn Weston

  20. Gwenn,
    The Smart Cards will be very helpful for assessment! Here are 25 certification points!

  21. Many teachers have experienced a participation problem, which spans over all ages and grade levels, in their classrooms. Only a few students respond and think to questions asked in the classroom, while not-so-motivated students seem content to disengage and let their peers do the thinking for them. The result is that those who participate are learning, while those who do not participate are simply not learning. This problem drives teachers to look for methods to evaluate the understanding of each student in her class, by increasing participation. Various methods have been tried, but all seem to come up short, that is until Smart Cards came on the scene. Smart Cards are a wonderful addition to WBT strategies because it is cheap and easy to make, easy to handle, and can be used in all subjects.

    Most methods used to determine student understanding, are rather expensive and not easily accessible in classrooms. Smart Boards and clickers, as mentioned in the book, are examples of new technology being used to engage students, but the cost of these are so high that they are inaccessible to most schools. Smart Cards on the other hand, are cheap and easy to make. The only cost will be $1 to purchase the index cards from a Dollar Store, and the time it takes to write the “yes” and “no” on each of the cards.

    Smart Cards also make for easy handling, since the students have to simply hold up the correct side of the card. With other methods there might be parts that need to be “assembled” before being used. For example if individual writing boards are being used; these usually have to be handed out, along with the markers and dry erasers. It takes too much time and students are prone to argue over who gets which item. However with Smart Cards, all the Cards look the same, which stops arguments, and the Cards can easily be handed out, even within seconds.

    The use of the Smart Cards are entirely limitless, and depends on the teacher’s own creativity with the content of each subject. Smart Cards can be used for any yes or no question within any subject. The teacher may ask yes or no questions and use the Smart Cards to review previous work, to preview prior knowledge, to test math facts, to fill in blanks, to assess understanding of various language concepts, etc. No matter what the teacher wishes to assess, she can use Smart Cards to determine individual student understanding and to increase individual participation.

    Smart Cards will be very effective to the teacher because they are economical, easily accessible, quick to make, and can be used to quickly engage all her students in answering questions. The students will find Smart Cards effective because the Cards can quickly be handed out, there are no extra parts to keep track off, and all of them will have to actively listen and participate to answer the questions correctly.

    1. Mariaan,
      This is a good description of the value of Smart Cards! You had a couple of minor editing errors "students respond and think to questions asked" and "The use of the Smart Cards are entirely limitless" (is). Here are 20 certification points!