Attendance, Part 3
One of the best things a student has ever said about my iPad during class was: “Let the iPad choose. It's the fair way.”
With the Attendance app (iTunes link), you can take, record, report and track attendance. You can communicate with an entire class or any students that were missing with the tap of a finger. You can document behaviours or record any notes on a particular student at a particular time. And you can do it all in one place. But there is still more functionality in the attendance app, and it's my favorite part.
My favourite feature of this app, for the PE classrom is the random function. Anyone in gym class has run into problems while creating teams, pairing up students, or selecting students for a task. Making groups is not only time consuming, but can also be difficult. Why not let your iPad do it for you? Everyone has numbered students off 1 then 2 to make partners while students madly shuffle to have someone between them and the person they want to partner with. Perhaps you have come up with a different pattern to select with, but students are always trying to figure it out and move in the line accordingly. Or maybe you let the students choose their own partners and we all know how that usually ends for students that never get chosen. When you choose, it's not uncommon for students to accuse you of making teams unfair or showing favoritism.
Let an app that will randomly assign teams or groupings do it for you. There are a variety of these apps out there I use as many as four different ones (Attendance, Pick Me, Make My Groups & Team Shake) while I teach PE. Each have their own individual merits and shortcomings which I look forward to discussing in a future post. But the beauty of the built-in random function in Attendance is that it is already linked to your attendance for that class. If a student is absent, s/he will not be included in the groupings/teams. As I already use this app for each class I teach, the integration makes this extremely simple and functional for me.
What has letting an app that chooses students randomly done? Well the title of the post says it best. At first students would complain, saying: “No, not the iPad!” But now that students are used to it, they say it is a more fair way. When one of the most competitive students that I teach said “Hey guys, just let the iPad choose, it's the fair way”. That phrase summed it up for me. I now spend less time making groups and teams, which means more students have time to be active. I have less headaches when it comes to students complaining about issues of fairness, and students feelings aren't hurt nearly as often. In addition, if your iPad is projected onto a screen in the gym, then students can go and see for themselves who their partner is, what group they are in or what team they are on. No excuses saying they didn't hear.
To use this feature in the Attendance app:
The process is quite simple:
Press the random button at the bottom of the screen. (Remember it will only pick from students that are in attendance that class.)
The top shows how many students are present. Now you have a variety of options.
If you want to choose a single random student, then press random student. You may keep selecting a new random student one at a time. With this option, students are put back in the pool to be chosen again, even after they have been selected. If you wish to choose students randomly one at a time but have students taken out after being chosen, then select the cycle through student option. This will take you through every student present without anyone being chosen twice. This option is great for younger students to select different roles in various tag games. Each student gets an even chance of being selected for a role in a game. If they choose not to take the role then they know they will no be selected for a long time. I also like to use the “cycle through student” option to avoid a mad rush to equipment or to line up at a door. Just quickly call out names one at a time to regulate the flow of students, you can pause at any time and it's not always girls go then boys etc.
If you want pairs then select groups of two and a random list of pairs will be generated. This is a quick and easy way to choose pairs to practice a new skill or activity and no one feels left out because nobody choose them.
For teams, select how many you want on each team, remember the number of students is always on the top of the page on the Random Groups/Student page. You can create any size of groups, 3, 7 or two equal teams, whatever you wish.
If you don't like a team or grouping for any reason just go back with the back button on the top left of the page and select again, a brand new random group will be generated. If you want to save a group, just email it to yourself with the email group button on the top of each grouping page.
I really feel this is a great use of technology in Physical Education!
Here are the benefits of letting an app randomly create groupings/teams:
- Quick and easy, no preparation time needed to make teams
- Fair. It takes out the “human factor” in creating groupings
- By being more efficient, students have more time to be active
- Lists can be saved or emailed for a future date with the tap of a finger
- Less complaints of favoritism and unfairness, no hurt emotions or feelings of exclusion
- Teams can be recreated in seconds if you don't like them
Attendance app is $4.99 and is available here.