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[Feature Focus] Study Island Group Sessions

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 -- McKenna Wierman

If you haven’t gotten to know Group Sessions yet, you’re missing out. Study Island's Group Sessions feature, introduced in August of 2015, is an easy-to-use, small or large group classroom response tool that puts teachers in the center of the active learning process. It’s built right into the program, meaning if you’ve got Study Island, you’ve got Group Sessions at your fingertips.

Since it was introduced, Group Sessions has become one of the fastest growing features of Study Island. Teachers love it because it adds variation by stimulating collaborative practice and enhancing teacher-led instruction. Plus, it enables teachers to track progress immediately using real-time student response data to quickly identify areas where groups of students are excelling and where more instruction is needed.

You could say the Group Sessions feature is the 21st-century version of the classroom clickers you once used (but way better). As with clickers, you can share questions and collect answers immediately. But, unlike classroom clickers, Group Sessions immediately scores every students’ response in real time within the session itself and in the associated Built Tests report without any additional hardware. That’s because any Internet-enabled device—whether it’s a desktop, laptop, or mobile device—becomes a clicker. By leveraging technology you already have in your classroom, Group Sessions give teachers the ability to conduct simple, measurable, and easy-to-use whole class activities while gathering actionable student data in one clean sweep.

How do Group Sessions work?

One of the best things about Group Sessions is that it’s the perfect tool for on the fly or pre-planned assessment. This means that not only are Group Sessions are easy enough to use that they can be set up in five minutes or less, but they are flexible enough to let you plan out what Group Sessions you want to use in your upcoming week’s worth of lessons.

To start, you can launch Group Sessions right from the Topic Tree, by simply selecting the topic you want to practice, and clicking the Group Session button from the pop-up menu.

Study Island Group Sessions Navigation

From there, you can quickly choose the class you would like to formatively assess, decide how many questions you want the session to have, and begin. You’ll instantly launch a set of randomized questions tailored specifically to the topic or standard of your choice. Once live, encourage your students to join by locating the same topic and then selecting Group Session, and you’re ready to go.

You can also create a Group Session as an assignment type ahead of time so you never miss out on a minute of instructional time. Keep in mind, in order to build assignments, your students must first be organized into classes. Then, when you create a Group Session assignment, it will automatically remain available in your students’ Assignments area on their homepage for the next seven days.

Using assignments to build Group Sessions also gives you access to another top Study Island feature—Built Tests. While Test Builder allows teachers and administrators to easily create, customize, and share unique Built Tests, Group Sessions allows you to launch them in a collaborative practice environment. Start by crafting your Built Test with the exact standards-aligned items from various grade levels and subjects you want to include, then using the assignment feature select Group Sessions and pull in a completed test from your Test Library. When you start with a Built Test and then deliver it via Group Sessions, you can cover the specific set of standards and types of questions you want—including only testing students on technology-enhanced items to prepare them for next generation assessments. Leverage Group Sessions in this way to review a recent test, or simply combine these two features to build practice sessions with your exact specifications. Now that you’ve learned how to build your Group Session, it’s time to launch it. We recommend displaying your view on your interactive whiteboard or projector so students can follow along easily from their own devices. First, you’ll notice that the first question will appear in the center of the screen. Once you’ve started polling, students can begin submitting their answers. A collapsible side panel will help you easily track who has answered and who is still thinking.  An anonymous tabulation of correct and incorrect answers also assists with quickly seeing how students are stacking up. To view individual student responses, you can expand the “Group Sessions Results” button and see a detailed view of student answers in a separate window. This insight may be helpful to you, but don’t forget to stop showing your screen first so the whole class can’t see which of their peers was right or wrong. Sessions can be paused for additional instruction, reteaching, or celebration at any time before moving on to the next question. During group discussion, you can even present question explanations and interact with the question for clearer instruction.

If at any point, students need to leave a session early they can save for later, then return when class resumes (as long as it’s within the seven-day window in which the session was created). Session results are instantly saved in the Built Test Report where you can dig deeper, or if you created your Group Session as an assignment, you can view results from the Class Manager page.

Study Island Group Sessions Screenshot

How can I use Group Sessions in my classroom?

  • Formatively Assess Students: Not only is this one of the most popular ways teachers use group Sessions in their classrooms, it’s also one of the most important. Use Group Sessions before or after instruction to check for understanding via in-class quizzes and test reviews, and get immediate and actionable data you can use to drive instruction on the spot.
  • Make Homework a Breeze: Teachers can use Group Sessions as a clever way to create offline homework (for those that may not have access to technology at home) while still keeping grading in check. Assign homework by starting a session, printing out the downloadable worksheet from the session, save the session for later, and pass out the worksheets as homework. Then the next morning, after students have completed their offline assignment, teachers simply need to re-open the previously saved session and give students a few minutes to enter in their answers from their take-home worksheets. Using this process, teachers will not only have their student’s homework graded and data saved in minutes, but they will also be able to use that data immediately to guider instruction.
  • Prepare for End-of-Year Summative Tests: Use student data to host large or small Group Sessions aimed at preparing students for end-of-year summative tests. During reviews, you can create general knowledge checks that include a variety of different topics for whole-class instruction, or pull only standards students are struggling with for targeted practice. Or, if your students are unfamiliar with how to answer technology enhanced items for high stakes assessments, Group Sessions is also great for teachers to demonstrate how TE Items work. After all, we never want students to miss a question because they don’t understand how it’s set up.

 Study Island’s unique Group Sessions feature helps teachers involve students in teacher-led, standards-based practice and learning, and keeps students engaged while also tracking their progress in real time toward standards mastery. So the question is: if you haven’t gotten to know Group Sessions yet, what’s stopping you?

Want to see Study Island Group Sessions in action? Study Island customers should check out the Help Center in the program for more tips on how to utilize Group Sessions in their daily lessons. Not a customer yet? Try Study Island for free!