Digital Audio Tool Decreases Assessments

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Parish Public Schools uses classroom audio systems to support teachers
By: 
Sheryl Abshire

As collaborative learning becomes the “new normal” and class size continues to grow, how are teachers supposed to effectively monitor and manage small groups? While small-group instruction facilitates higher-level thinking in students, it can present a challenge for teachers who are trying to effectively evaluate if students are on-task and learning.

Ashleigh Schulz, a 4th-grade teacher at Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, was thrilled when she discovered a classroom audio system that allowed her to listen in on organic student conversations without being physically present. “The Flexcat from Lightspeed Technologies allows small groups of students the freedom to work together in an uninterrupted manner,” said Schulz. “I can monitor and listen to each group separately through the Flexcat pods that stay with the group.”

The system includes a microphone for the teacher and mobile speaker pods that students can take with them wherever they are working. Flexcat helps keep students on-task when working in small groups because they know the teacher may be listening at any time. “It allows me to listen to the most natural student conversations. It is really awesome to step back and listen to how their brains work, and to hear how they communicate with one another,” said Schulz.

By listening in on student conversations without being physically present, teachers can gain an understanding of whether a student truly understands the content and can provide better documentation on how each student is progressing throughout the year. Calcasieu’s teachers no longer spend hours on student assessments because they are able to capture conversations in real time and assess during the conversations. The district’s big ‘aha’ moment really came after putting a couple of systems into our classrooms, when we saw for ourselves the power this technology has to transform learning.

Sheryl Abshire is the chief technology officer at Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, LA.

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