Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer EdTech Challenge #6: Formative Assessment tools

Welcome to the Summer EdTech Challenge! Summertime is a wonderful time to be a teacher! It's the perfect time to recharge your batteries, catch up on trends in education, read for pleasure, and learn new things. How about taking the opportunity to learn new tech skills or try out new tools and strategies?

Each Monday this summer I'll post a simple tech challenge, something you can do between dips in the pool and binge watching your favorite TV show. These challenges are practical, easy to implement ideas to help you develop your tech skills and start next year off on the right technology foot!

Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students' achievement of intended instructional outcomes. It is a tool most teachers use to determine where the learning needs to go, whether students are understanding content or if more time needs to spent on certain skills before moving on. Check out this short video on formative assessment by Dylan William, a leading educational expert on formative assessment.

Luckily for teachers, there are many digital formative assessment tools out there. Digital tools offer many advantages over traditional paper and pencil type assessments. The biggest advantage is the ability to collect and analyze data instantaneously. As soon as students have answered a question or completed an assessment, it's graded and teachers have the data necessary to gauge the next direction in learning. No longer do teachers need to wait until after school to grade them and analyze the data. The data is permanent and can be reviewed at any time. In most cases it can be downloaded as a spreadsheet where teachers can further manipulate and analyze the data.

In addition to the quick access to data and results, digital tools offer these benefits:
  • make student thinking visible
  • provide efficient and immediate feedback
  • increase human interaction and debate
  • increase classroom participation and attentiveness
  • encouraging risk-taking with anonymous student responses
There are a variety of digital tools out there that can assess in a variety of ways, depending on the type of data the teacher is trying to collect. I believe that teachers should be familiar with a variety of digital tools, so they can be used in a variety of situations. Here is a list of some tools that are great for collecting real-time polling/survey data and student feedback regarding the concepts/ideas required to reach learning objectives.

Poll Everywhere is great for BYOD classrooms. Students can use their own cell phone, regardless of whether it is a smartphone or not. One feature I love about Poll Everywhere is the ability to collect words or phrases and display them as a word cloud.

Socrative is a good old standby for formative assessment tools. Teachers can ask multiple choice and true/false type questions that can include images. It has an iPad app for both teachers and students, but can also be accessed via the web. Many teachers have created Socrative quizzes and share them freely on the web.

Kahoot and Quizizz are game-based response systems. Students compete individually or in teams and earn points based on how quickly they can answer the questions. The game-based aspect of these systems is highly motivating and engaging for students. They are web-based so students can use any web enabled device such as a tablet, phone, or computer.

GoFormative lets you to upload an assignment in the form of some text, images, videos or a document.  Choose how you want to assess it, typed response, multiple choice or show your work. Assign it to you learners and watch live as they go through it. Students can type, show their work with drawings or submit images and you can see how all the learners are doing live.

Student responders such as CPS and Activotes are common in many classrooms and schools. Teachers can easily use them for polls and quizzes during lessons. They are easily set up, reliable, and don't require any additional tools beyond the software installed on the teacher's workstation.

Plickers are a good solution for classes that don't have access to classroom responders. Teachers print out QR Code style forms and use their cell phone to "poll" the classroom. This is a nice solution because students don't need a device in order to participate.

Your challenge this week is to become familiar with one of these digital formative assessment tools or select one of your own that you've heard of. Take one of the quizzes that you would normally use in class and recreate it using the tool you selected. Have it all ready to use in class this upcoming school year.

In the comments below let me know which tool you selected and why. Don't forget to tell me about the quiz you made - what you are trying to assess and how it fits into your curriculum.

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