If you haven’t heard of Carousel Learning, then I’d suggest heading over to their website and taking a look.
It has been a gamechanger for me. Traditionally, I have used it for:
- getting access to many high-quality questions banks (or easily uploading my own)
- setting great homework that incorporates recall and retrieval
- marking a class-set of homework in a matter of minutes
- easily selecting questions to focus on during feedback (see next bullet point)
- providing feedback to students on their homework using the brilliant whole class feedback feature
Recently, Carousel have added a new feature that has, quite simply, enhanced my overall experience.
This feature is the Whiteboard and it is a way of setting a quiz for students to work on during a lesson.
Setting it up is very easy. You just have to click on the Whiteboard option, type in a title for the quiz, select your question bank and questions, and click on Show Now.
This is what the finished quiz looks like:
I tend to use the Whiteboard function as a Do Now, with a mix of questions on the current topic and those from previous topics.
The quiz is displayed on the board, freeing me up to greet students and praise good behaviour as they enter my classroom (eg. good morning, Rose. Well done for getting settled so quickly Kevin.’)
Students then work in silence, answering the questions in their exercise books. In my department, students tend to keep their books with them but if I have their books for any reason, I ensure they are ready to be handed out in an efficient manner. There are a few ways to do this but if they are collected in the order that students are sitting in, then I maintain that order of books so they can be handed out quickly.
I ask students to answer the questions in full sentences. There are two reasons for this:
- if students don’t know an answer, they still write the start of the answer and wait to fill it in with a different colour when we discuss as a class
- I regularly quiz students on their notes and labelled diagrams so having these answers in full sentences means they can identify the ones they struggled on (as these answers are written in a different colour) and focus on them
The whiteboard feature allows us to reveal answers, one question at a time, which is perfect. In the past, I would spend time desgining a slide with questions and working on animations so only one answer was revealed with each click. This slow reveal has already been done for me so it really is a time-saving process.
There is also the option to reveal all answers at once or to hide answers. If I happen to be using the same quiz with a different class on the same day, then all I have to do is hide all the answers and my quiz is ready (this has actually happened to me once!).
Until now, Carousel has been a homework tool for me. Now I can use homework to gather information on what my students are good at and what they need to work on more. And then I can make them practice those latter questions in the lesson. This is responsive teaching and when you do it right, it is powerful.
I used to try to do this in the past with written homework tasks but despite it being a powerful strategy, it was time-consuming.
I had to set the homework, mark it, pick questions, and then display them in the following lesson for student practice or for reteaching. Even though I am doing exactly this with Carousel Learning, I am saving time at each step, maintaining the power of this strategy while making it time-efficient.
I have now used the whiteboard feature in nearly every lesson since it was introduced.
It has made the starts of my lessons consistent and purposeful.
Students can see that the questions I set them for homework are important and are an integral part of the lessons, when they recognise a question displayed on the board that was previously set for homework.
Initially, I thought it would have been helpful if I could prepare the whiteboard questions well in advance and save them. But it really does only take a minute to set up and it hasn’t stopped me from using it for all 6 lessons in a day.
If you do not yet have a Carousel Learning account, I hope reading this will convince you to recitfy that. I may even go so far as to say it is better than sliced bread!