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Making it Click: Using Turning Point Student Response Systems for Students with Disabilities

written by: La-Trice M. Alston • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 2/7/2013

Teaching students with disabilities requires a lot of creative thinking among other things. If you are like a lot of teachers, balancing a mixture of disabilities in one classroom can present a challenge when it comes to differentiating instruction. Using Turning Point has many benefits.

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    What is Turning Point?

    Turning Point is an audience response system, commonly referred to as “clickers", that works inside Microsoft’s PowerPoint®. Students are able to participate in presentations or lectures by submitting responses via their clickers; their recorded responses are then captured and can be viewed by the instructor and / or whole class.

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    Why Turning Point Works for Students with Disabilities

    iStock 000017949316XSmall Turning Point clickers are great for differentiated instruction. Whether you are teaching students with disabilities in the small group or collaborative (general education) classroom, it allows for all students to participate equally in answering questions.

    Teachers are well aware that the same students normally volunteer to answer the questions. With Turning Point, all students are equally responsible for participating in the lesson. One of the benefits of Turning Point is that students who take more time to process and formulate an answer have the opportunity to answer instead of being beaten to the punch by students who process answers faster.

    Another benefit of using clickers is that it allows shy students to participate. Also, in the general education setting, many students with disabilities are fearful of answering questions aloud for fear of being wrong. Clickers allow them to answer without the fear of being ridiculed for incorrect answers. To keep academically high students engaged, there is the opportunity to create leader boards within the Turning Point application. Competitive students can compete against other students for having the fastest response times. Leader boards can be cumulative for the day, period, week, unit, etc. Point leaders may also be given special rewards. Most improved students can be recognized as well. And all of this data is collected without additional work for the teacher.

    Turning Point and Data Analysis

    Data analysis, formative and summative assessments are big buzzwords in education today. Many students with disabilities will have Individual Education Plans (IEP) that requires teachers to keep ongoing data that measures students’ growth. Turning Point not only gives teachers instant feedback on what students are or are not learning, but this data can also be kept as ongoing records of student achievement and growth. Teachers normally assign students the same clicker so that students are identifiable by a particular barcode for future referencing. This information can be later disaggregated on Excel spreadsheets. By assigning students clickers, the teacher can also easily assess who needs remediation and who could benefit from enrichment activities. This is true and authentic feedback / data.

    What do they Really Understand?

    When teachers ask questions such as, “Does anyone have any questions or not understand?" they seem to be rhetorical: teachers know that students are normally reluctant to admit that they don’t understand something especially in front of their peers. With Turning Point, teachers can insert not only question slides to gauge student’s mastery or understanding of a concept, but also input slides that ask students to convey their comfort level with newly learned material without fear of being “the only one" who didn’t understand. These types of slides encourage students to be truthful while giving the teacher a better picture of what is or is not being learned in a particular lesson.

    Win-Win for Students and Teachers

    With Turning Point, teachers will find it easier to engage all students in the classroom, motivate different levels of students while increasing student involvement. Students and teachers can get instant feedback. Teachers will have an easier time collecting students' performance data. No child is left behind, regardless of academic ability, and teachers will have an easier time differentiating the needs of all learners in their classroom. Now that is what you call successful learning.