Catchbox Case Study
Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy
Cheryl Poage is an AVID Coordinator for Hillsborough County Schools. She teaches at Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, a Magnet Middle School. She uses Catchbox as clasroom engagement tool for some time now. We had a chat with her to learn more about her experience.
She has a large classroom with flexible seating. The room is split into two areas where students have seating at desks and tables with bar stools, chairs, and wobbly stools. There’s also a back area with sofas, game chairs, and computers. Her students are all middle school boys aged 11-14. The classroom is larger than most – it has about 20 students per class. In addition students raise a puppy (service dog in training) in the classroom.
Everyone wants to answer a question or share when the Catchbox is out.Cheryl Poage,
Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy
Cheryl tells us that usually, she uses hands-on acivities for clasroom engagement. Mostly exercise where there are movement and joint learning. Students are able to work wherever they feel comfortable in the room during small group sessions. In her opinion, it is important for students to hear opinions of the other students and for them to share their thoughts.
When asked Cheryl what are the main problems in the classroom regarding student engagement, she shared her observations. “Some students do not like to take chances. They don’t always volunteer answers because they sometimes have a fear of failure. At times they just don’t feel comfortable engaging fully in a lesson that requires them to share full class.”
“When I first heard of a throwable microphone I thought it would be a great tool in my classroom with boys. They love to move and be active. I felt that throwable microphone would be a perfect way to have their voice heard AND keep them moving”. When asked whether Cheryl found Catchbox hard to set up she shared her thoughts. “Honestly, I thought it might be difficult to set up, so another teacher tried it in her room first and I saw how easy it was. She then set it up in my class within minutes.” After trying out a new approach to lessons Cheryl states that Catchbox has increased engagement and added energy into her lessons by getting her middle school boys up and moving while answering questions. “The boys loved it! Hands were up all over the room! Everyone wants to answer a question or share when the Catchbox is out. The teacher who first set it up is a science teacher. She was shocked at how many students were ready to answer questions with the Catchbox! Students who normally will not answer questions are no longer intimidated.”
Cheryl also admits that Catchbox has changed the group dynamics in her classroom. Her voice is easily heard when she’s using it. If her students are in the middle of an activity, it is easy to gain their attention and bring them back together as a group with Catchbox. She likes the fact that even soft-spoken boys can be heard and are not as shy because it allows their voice to be amplified without effort. She also points out that it’s really important that boys can throw Catchbox across the room or toss it, and it’s safe. Kids love the movement and the activity. And Cheryl loves the fact that it is moving with a purpose, and has encouraged them to answer more questions.
As Cheryl emphasizes the most important thing while using Catchbox with kids is being sure that you are using it for a purpose. “Have a good prompt, question, etc. and ask for volunteers, THEN add in the Catchbox and see the difference it makes in your classroom. Even though we use it daily, I use it only on specific parts of the lesson. It can also be used when students are looking a bit lethargic. It will definitely stimulate them! And be sure to turn off the battery box when you are not using it. It is quick and easy to turn on and off.” We asked her to share some tips and tricks for Catchbox first time users: “I would just be sure to keep a handle on it. You want to use it for a purpose, rather than just becoming a common tool that students lose interest in.”
How do you engage the students in your classroom? Please share your experience in the comment section below!