Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Assessing with Technology

Hey all! Stephanie from The Marvelous Middle here. Today I want to talk to you about painless and quick ways you can assess in your classroom using technology. My school is a 1:1 school but you don't have to be in order to use these assessments. They are all online and can be easily shared on the teacher's computer linked to a projection screen or Promethean Board / Smartboard. I'm really excited to share what I do in my classroom so let's get started.

This quote guides my classroom activities.
If you are anything like me, I am always looking for new and interesting ways to assess my students in real time, whether I am wanting to get a quick status of the class or looking to do a review type of game. The following websites are ones that I have personally used in my classroom as formative assessments and are my "go-to" choices. It's always good to shake things up often with middle schoolers so they keep interested...so having many choices in your toolbox is key.

Kahoot is a free learning space where educational content can be delivered by asking questions in real-time. It's a social, game-like environment where teachers involve students by questioning, discussing, and surveying. Kahoot's motto is "Great learning starts by asking questions."

Example from my Etymology Challenge Kahoot
Currently, there are three types of Kahoot.

  1. Quiz: This is the most commonly used in my classroom. With this type, a teacher can create a series of multiple-choice questions. Each question can have an associated picture or video with it. There is a time-limit (that the teacher sets) for each question. Players answer questions that are displayed at the front of the room on their personal device (laptop, phone, tablet, etc.). Students are motivated to answer correctly and score the most points.. The faster a students answers the question correctly, the more points they get. The top 5 highest point scorers are displayed on a leaderboard between each question. The ultimate winner is shown at the end. It's a great way to engage and focus a whole group of students. Quizzes can be used to formatively assess each student in your classroom. Each game's data is saved and can be downloaded into a spreadsheet in order to track progress over time.
  2. Discussion: This type is designed to facilitate a conversation among students. They are simply one quick question with no right or wrong answer. This question can also have a picture or video associated with it. I typically use a short video that requires my class to give an opinion or come to a conclusion about the subject of the video. Players answer the question using their personal device and the collective results of the question are displayed in the front of the room. These results can be used as a launching pad into a class discussion. I often use this as a bell-ringer or an introduction to a new unit. It's quick and sets up a great class discussion.
  3. Survey: This type is just like a traditional survey, except questions are asked in real-time. There are no right or wrong answers and there is no limit to the number of questions that can be included on the survey. Again, students answer using their personal device. At the end of each question, results are shown, which allows for debating and discussion at that time. I have used this as an anticipation guide in my classroom. You could also use as a way to pace your discussion because of pre-set questions or to make sure the necessary questions are asked while allowing for robust classroom discussions. As with the quiz, results can be downloaded at the end of the survey.

This is very similar to Kahoot. The only difference is it is self-paced, not teacher-paced. This puts the responsibility on the student to guide instruction. I would recommend Quizzizz if you have students who can work independently and have good self-pacing skills. The other main difference is the question and the answer options show up on student devices. Again, this allows for student pacing. I have used this in my classroom as review homework and as centers.

This is very similar to Kahoot and Quizzizz, but with much greater functionality. Quizzes can be student-paced or teacher paced. But the features that make Socrative so useful, in my opinion, is the question types and the exit slip option. Questions can be not only multiple choice, but also true/false and short answer. I use short answer questions the most, especially when used as exit slips. There is an actual template already in place for you to use as an exit slip. This alone makes this my choice most days in my classroom. and unlike the other two, there is an actual app for Socrative, which I find useful for students who have difficulty getting a URL typed in correctly.
If you are looking for something completely different than the above choices or you have a classroom where devices are hard to come by, Plickers is the solution. Plickers is a classroom polling system that displays results in real-time. The only difference is that students hold up a card that shows the chosen answer. 
My students using Plicker
The teacher then scans the room with an Apple or Android phone or tablet. As you scan, the space above the card shows the student's name in either red or green. Green = correct answer and red = incorrect answer. The results also appear on the screen at the front of the room. Pluckers also created an app that was released in January 2016. I have yet to try it yet. 

On my blog, The Marvelous Middle, I have gone into further detail about setting up and using Plickers. You can find that post here. I have just started using Plickers but so far, it's going to be added to my assessment toolbox . The kids loved it and found it easy to use. 

I just participated in a PD session that showed it being used in a classroom. It appeared to be another quick way to poll your students. The one thing I noticed was it didn't require students to use their names so all answers were anonymous. I could see this be helpful as a way to gauge your entire class' level of understanding.I have not used in my classroom yet, but I will post a review on The Marvelous Middle once I do.

Whew! Thanks for letting me share what I use in my toolbox for quick, tech-based formative assessments. I hope your students enjoy them as much as my students do!

Until next time...

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