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.

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