In January, Jennifer Gonzales of Cult of Pedagogy posted a blog on education tech tools to try in 2019. At the top of her list was an app that caught my attention immediately called Equity Maps. After a few purchasing problems at the district level, I was able to get into the app just in time to run through our final Socratic seminars. Overall, I have to say that I loved the app. It’s simple to run and visually pleasing. Best of all, it’s created by educators.
So what is Equity Maps? Equity Maps simply put is an app that allows you to track student participation at a touch of the screen.
Easy, right? Even easier is tracking student speaking times and the types of things they discuss during the seminar. Once you hit play, all you have to do is click on the student who is speaking. Like a stopwatch, it starts tracking that student. Then, when another student jumps into the conversation, you click their icon and the stopwatch begins for them. From there you can add tags based on the information they shared. For example, if a student quoted their research, I would click the student then click the checklist at the top right and select that they did a direct quote.
What is even better is the data that you can look at when you end the session. The data comes in a convenient screen that breaks it down into several categories.
Each category has different data based on what each student said and how long they held the floor. If I click on Checknotes, I can see each student and what I marked when they were talking. For the Socratic seminar that I tested the app on, the students needed to use evidence from both an interview with an adult as well as information gathered from an article.
This is, however, where I think the app falls short of perfect for making a teacher’s life easier. Each category of data is completely separate from the others. So if, for example, I wanted to look at the amount of time a student spent speaking as well as the notes I had marked on the quality of their conversations, I need to look through two separate categories. While not a major inconvenience, it does add extra time going back and forth between categories for grading purposes.
I think this app has great potential when it comes to grading Socratic seminars. I also think this app can help teachers take a look at their own classroom practices as well. Over the next month, I am going to use this app as a way of tracking student talking in the class, regardless of the assignment. This will hopefully help track student participation and let us give all students a chance to be heard and not hide in the background to be forgotten.
So, just to recap . . .
- Extremely convenient and easy to use. An intuitive drag and drop interface where mistakes don’t ruin an entire session’s worth of data.
- Customizable with grading data (Checklist) and seating arrangements. (Also more to come from the developer).
- Loads of useful data about student participation that can be broken down in many ways.
- No singular data interface for individual students. You do have to click through each category to see how a student performed instead of getting an overall picture.
- Comparatively expensive. The app itself (Right now) is $2.99 for the initial download plus another $6.99 for the premium update. However, in conversations with the developers, they are combining the app under a new system which will be one download in the near future. This also applies to school districts who wish to get this app for their schools or teachers. Because the app is not optimized for