Newest blog: Edueto magazine – Talking about Assessments

Published in Edueto, September 29, 2015rocks

Integrating Technology: Let’s Talk Assessments

We all know that we must assess our students regularly using formative and summative assessments.  Assessments are needed in order to determine what learning has occurred, what areas need to be reinforced, and as teachers, what our next steps must be.  We need this information to guide our instruction and help decide what additional opportunities to provide for our students.  We also must assess our students so that we can have the vital information necessary to provide feedback to them, in order to guide their learning. Providing them with timely, relevant feedback is essential to helping their growth and reflection on their learning and needs.  Assessments are an integral part of the learning process for teachers and students for these reasons.  So how can we make assessments more effective, informative and engaging too?

Why use technology for assessments? 

Depending on the number of classes we have, and the number of students in each class, creating numerous assessments in a variety of forms, grading them and providing feedback in a timely manner, can become quite time consuming. However, with the numerous tools available for technology integration, assessing students in a variety of different ways is now available. Teachers can now conduct quick entrance and exit slips, administer surveys, engage students in discussions both in and outside of class, create quizzes and other more formal assessments to determine what learning has occurred. And what’s even better than all of these possibilities mentioned, is how quickly the results can be obtained, evaluated and feedback provided to the students.

Some of the tools available provide instant feedback to teachers in several forms.  Teachers can select to receive downloadable spreadsheets, a quick email with the results and some offer other formats as well, all of which help to develop an understanding of where the students are in terms of their learning and what areas need a bit more focus and instruction.
What differences can you expect?

In my classroom, I need to assess my students on a regular basis because learning a foreign language, especially at the lower levels, requires ongoing evaluation of how the students are understanding the material.  Since I am teaching a language, feedback on a regular basis is critical so students can build their vocabulary and enhance the four language skills.  With the number of students I have in the lower level, providing assessments and giving feedback to the students in a timely manner has always been a priority to me. I wanted to grade quizzes and return them the next day, because that is when I believed it was most needed and effective.  The results of student assessments are necessary so that we can continue our learning plan. However, sometimes due to other time constraints, or the length of assessments, grading their work and returning it the next day, in spite of my best efforts, did not always happen, and for this I needed  to find a solution.

With the tools available through technology, many of these concerns have disappeared and made a tremendous difference in the efficiency of my classroom and my teaching procedures, and the types of assessments I can create for my students and meet their diverse learning styles.

Where to begin: What are some tools to start with?
Using tools such as Edmodo, Kahoot!, Responster, Socrative, Survey Monkey, Quizizz, Riddle and several others like these, I can quickly create discussion questions, quizzes, a survey, or combination of all of these and provide the link to my students to complete in class. There are so many options for creating a formative assessment using any of these tools and many more are available.  Once they’re all finished, I can see the results or even download the results directly to my computer, download the information to a spreadsheet or I can analyze the statistics in a variety of ways. Assessing students using tools such as these, makes the use of entrance slips and exit slips much easier and quicker.  By having your students complete an entrance slip using one of these tools at the beginning of a period, it enables you to have the results within only a few minutes and use this valuable feedback to help guide your instruction for the day or make changes as needed.  You can also use these results to provide valuable information back to the students, one on one, and help them to work on their personal growth and reflection.

The results of the assessments are stored and they can be shared with students in a variety of ways if desired, as well.  Teachers can refer back to the results to track growth, to note patterns in certain classes or students, and to provide individual feedback to students on their strengths and weaknesses. I find it beneficial to my professional growth as well and use these results to reflect on my instruction in class. With technology, assessments are fast and can be saved for later reference.  Paper assessments get lost but assessments created using one of these tools are stored and can be referred to as often as needed.

Benefits of using these tools
There are so many options for conducting assessments in the classroom and in addition to allowing teachers to conduct this type of evaluative work in a quicker manner, it lessens the paperwork involved.  It also benefits students because they learn additional vital technology skills as well.
All of these tools can be used in any grade level or subject area and they do not require students to create an account but can be shared simply through a shareable URL which can be posted on a class website or sent on messaging tool such as Celly, which is used in my classroom, or any other messaging app.  The ability to design, share and evaluate assessments using these and other tools is remarkable.
So if you’re looking for a better way to provide feedback to your students, to streamline some of the assessments that you do in class, and definitely to reduce the amount of paper used, I suggest trying one of these tools that I mentioned. There are many options available but these are just a few of those that I have used at least at the start of my integration of technology into my classroom and ones that have had a huge impact on the assessments conducted in my classroom. My students have truly enjoyed having these alternate ways to show what they know and can do with the material.   Thank you for reading.  I look forward to sharing more ideas with you about tools for student collaboration and sharing of ideas.  Next topic will focus on specific assessment tools and how to use them in your classroom.

Integrating Technology: My ongoing discussion on Edueto Magazine

?Integrating Technology: Taking another step with Blendspace

It takes time, there is no doubt, but we must persist when we take on any new venture. Sometimes it can take longer than we like, because we run into difficulties and roadblocks.  You have to expect new questions to appear while seeking the solution to the prior questions. That’s the nature of the game. But this ongoing cycle also promotes goal setting and makes us more driven as educators.

So if you have been gradually working toward integrating more technology into your classroom, in a way similar to how I started, I hope that you are seeing some results at this point. Maybe you started with a Messaging App.  If so, do you see improvement in the way you can communicate with your students and they can collaborate with one another? Or did you start using an LMS?  Have some of the frustrations which came about because of lost papers, forgotten assignments, or students who missed learning opportunities due to class absences, started to disappear? I hope so. Because if they have, then that means that the steps you are now taking are having a positive effect on your classroom and are enabling you and your students to experience a more efficient and beneficial learning environment.

It takes time, there is no doubt, but we must persist when we take on any new venture. Sometimes it can take longer than we like, because we run into difficulties and roadblocks.  You have to expect new questions to appear while seeking the solution to the prior questions. That’s the nature of the game. But this ongoing cycle also promotes goal setting and makes us more driven as educators.
The next step

In my last post, I was talking about the uses of Blendspace as a means to curate resources and flip your classroom. It does not matter what you ultimately decide to use, but having one place to keep your resources is a really great idea. We can all become overwhelmed by the many new technology tools that are brought to our attention every day. There are so many out there and choosing one can be quite difficult. So how do you make that decision? Looking at sites such as Graphite or EdShelf can help.  Seeing the feedback of other educators that have used some of these technologies in their classroom is definitely a good way to learn more about a tool, its functionality and applicability in your classroom. For example, using something like EdShelf, you can get a summary of the uses of a web tool, see what age group it is recommended for, which areas of instruction it would apply to, and read some stories about user experiences. If you have not checked EdShelf out yet, I recommend taking a look.

Back to Blendspace: Many possibilities

So going back to Blendspace, I like to talk about it because it really does provide a variety of benefits to me both personally and professionally.  It enables me to flip the classroom and to save that vital classroom time when we’re all together, for student interactions, engaging activities, or even for students to work independently while I facilitate their activities, rather than talk the whole class period. I can create a lesson and share it with them through their account on Blendspace or through the URL link and post it on Edmodo. Regardless of how the lesson is shared, they have access to many resources and can learn asynchronously outside of the classroom, on their own schedule, using whatever device they choose.

Learning can take place anywhere at any time. Students can work on a lesson in the car on the way to a game or late at night when they decide to stay up and work on something. It does not matter because the choice is theirs and that’s the great thing about technology and the usefulness of tools like Blendspace which enable flipping the classroom and storing so many resources in one place. I have also used it as a great way to store some of the various assessment tools, presentation software, or examples of projects that I have created. It makes it easier to share ideas with colleagues and at conferences and it’s a great way for me to be able to review the work I have done, to make suggestions to others, and to also see my own growth and reflect on my progress on the learning continuum.

When students create projects for my class, they don’t have to worry about fumbling with a flash drive and I don’t have to worry about losing valuable class time opening emails and attachments.  There is no concern for privacy with any grades or other information being shown. I can compile all of their projects into one lesson, give it a title, and open up one lesson which contains all of their work and display them one after another for the class to enjoy. If the students want to see each other’s work they can access it, it is stored permanently and so we can always go back and obtain the link and see what tools they have already used in class.
Building a Lesson with Blendspace

Building a lesson for any level or discipline is quite easy as well. You can take any topic and using the tools provided such as Google Search, Educreations, Google Drive, Dropbox, selecting a file to upload from your computer, and several others to search for relevant information. All it takes is finding the resource and dragging it into place in your lesson. You can add boxes, move items around, but no matter what you do it is done quickly and enables you to provide a lot of additional learning opportunities and resources for the students. And it can also be used by the students to create a project for your class, if they want to include text or a quiz or a variety of media resources, they have many options.

So these are just some of the reasons why I am really happy that I found Blendspace and how its use has benefitted my classroom. My initial reasons for using it have evolved over the past 3 years and I continue to find new ways to integrate it into my classroom. I hope that you will check it out and create a lesson and see if it works for you. It might be another area which can provide great benefits in your classroom, or it might just lead you to explore other tools. Either way you will be integrating additional technology into your classroom and you and your students will be positively affected.

I hope you are enjoying the information and I look forward to sharing more with you next time, on different ways technology can be used to assess students. Thanks for reading. I would be happy to share ideas with you, feel free to contact me.

Visme: Case Study, thanks to Payman Taei for this opportunity

This was a case study Visme had done on my use of Visme in the classroom. Payman Taei provided me with the great opportunity to share ideas.

Case Study: How a teacher is using Visme in Classroom

image: http://blog.visme.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/visme-education.jpg

Today we are interviewing Rachelle Poth, a High School teacher currently teaching Spanish in Pennsylvania.   Rachelle  likes to integrate and keep up with new technologies and she has found Visme to be a great tool to use in the classroom.

Let’s learn a bit more about Rachelle and her experience with Visme in her own words:

You have been teaching for quite some time. Can you share your background with our viewers?

image: http://blog.visme.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/visme-education-case-study.jpg

visme-education-case-study

I have been a Foreign Language Teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont PA since 1997. I currently teach Spanish levels I through IV, but have also taught French during my time at Riverview.

I continued teaching full time and then received my Juris Doctor Degree in June 2006 and passed the Bar Exam that July.  I am currently pursuing my Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology at Duquesne University because of my commitment to lifelong learning and to providing the best possible learning opportunities for my students.

You seem to keep up with new technologies and trends.  Why do you use Technology in classroom?

I love integrating technology into my classroom, and have sought to find new ways to help students learn better through the integration of technology.  Prior to beginning the master’s program, I had started using an LMS, a messaging service and various project based presentation tools to build a more personalized, collaborative and innovative classroom through technology.

I have presented sessions on technology during Professional Development days held within my school district and last March I was nominated as a Pennsylvania Keystone Star for Technology.

From over 400 nominees in Pennsylvania who completed the application process after nomination, I was fortunate to have been selected as 1 of the 100 educators in Pennsylvania to attend a weeklong Keystone Summit held at Kutztown University last July.

My experience at the summit was tremendously valuable and it was an opportunity to interact with other educators, build new connections and share ideas.

I have continued to seek opportunities to share and learn about the integration of technology and enjoy attending conferences and EdCamps, presenting technology sessions, and participating in technology and education related chats through Twitter as often as possible. 

My presentations are focused on ways that technology can be used to provide personalized, creative and enhanced learning opportunities for students and how teachers can use various tools to make this possible.

I have presented technology sessions at Lehigh University and the TRETC Conference in Pittsburgh in November.  This February, I had the tremendous opportunity to be involved at PETE&C (Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference) for the first time. 

I presented two sessions at PETE&C and also had two teams of my students showing their skills developed through Spanish classes in the showcase. 

I recently presented at the IUP Foreign Language Methodology Conference in April and I will be presenting two sessions at ISTE this summer and am so excited to have such a tremendous opportunity and look forward to meeting new people and re-connecting with colleagues.

What Types of technology do you use in your classroom

image: http://blog.visme.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/profile-conference.jpg

profile-conference

Read more at http://blog.visme.co/how-a-teacher-and-students-use-visme-in-classroom-education/#Vu2k0m58BjVCKjAZ.99

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