Latest blog: Assessments Published October 26,2015 Edueto

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Thanks to Edueto for posting my latest blog.

Integrating Technology: Fast ways to assess your students

Integrating Technology:  Fast ways to assess your students

Are you looking for a faster, more engaging way to assess your students? Do you like to use entrance or exit slips, or find out how students are doing or what they are thinking?  If your answer is yes, then try some of these assessment tools.

Why use technology for assessing?

Not all students are willing to express themselves in front of their classmates, and we’ve all been there when the question posed to the class, “Does anybody have any questions?” is then followed by silence. No questions?  Really?  While sometimes there really aren’t any questions, other times, or even quite possibly, a lot of the time, there are questions but students are afraid or uncomfortable asking them in the classroom. There is a fear or unease of showing vulnerability perhaps by asking a question.  So for any of these reasons, using one of the many assessment tools in class can be quite helpful for both teachers and students and for different reasons.  I find these can help to engage students more and enable us as teachers to really develop a better understanding of where the students are in terms of their learning and growth in the classroom.

A few tools to start with

I use a variety of assessment tools for different reasons in my classroom, but I would like to tell you about the first few that I found to be very useful. I started using Survey Monkey a few years back as a way to find out generally how the students were preparing, what kind of activities helped them the most and the least, what areas they thought they needed some additional help with, and I also added any extra question for them to add  additional comments or concerns.

Because I wanted them to all complete the survey, I gave them credit and to do this, I asked them to provide their Celly user name for identification.  I strategically placed the “identify yourself” question at the very end of the survey and I provided reassurance that their personal answers would not be shared and it was just information to help guide me in deciding how to best provide instruction for them in my class. It worked out great with all of its features, analyzing the data through summaries and also looking at their individual answers, really did provide a wealth of information to help me make my instruction better for them. It also gave me the opportunity to see what they needed in terms of personalization and I value this information the most.

As time passed, I found more uses for Survey Monkey such as short quizzes, entrance or exit slips and other formats for engaging them in the class discussion. And it was great because the answers were quickly available, no student login or sign up was needed and I could save the information to refer back to at any time. Now if you are like me, you like to try a variety of things and maybe you have a top 3 or top 5 list of your favorite tools for an area of your instruction.  I do as well and would like to share a few others with you.

Have you heard the phrase? “On my Soap Box”

The name of this tool immediately caught my attention because of its name, many times hearing the reference to “getting on one’s soap box” to discuss something.  So the next tool I tried, is in fact called, GoSoapBox.  GoSoapBox is another quick way to assess students and does not require students to create an account but rather have an event code to enter.  The event code is assigned to your specific created class or “event.” The expression “soapbox” does go back a long way but GoSoapBox is a great way for students to communicate and respond to polls, quizzes and discussion questions. And the nice thing is that students can respond openly, and their responses are saved and readily available. This is a great way to pose a question to a class and have students share their answers, and then they can be displayed on a SmartBoard for open discussion. As a teacher, I can always refer back to their answers and use this as a way to work with students individually and help them to enhance their skills.   My students liked using this format because it involves technology and it is quick and easily completed on their phones or other device.  And more importantly, it was something different than they had done in their other classes and other assessments they had done.

Kahoot! A “game” changer for sure

My next favorite came a little bit later in the spring of 2014 and that was Kahoot!. I could spend a long time talking about the numerous ways I have found to use Kahoot! in my foreign language classroom and the energy and enthusiasm that the mere mention of the word creates for my students is unreal.  However, just to give you a few highlights if you have not yet used it, Kahoot! is a great way to have students engage in a game, with questions ranging from vocabulary identification, to images or video, fill-in-the-blank and any type of question that you want with various answer choices. Students can play on any device, the question appears on your screen or Smartboard and students enter a game pin to join your game.

So how does it work? The game Kahoot! Is kind of set up like the trivia games you may have played at restaurants. After each question, students know where they rank, and at the end of the game there is a winner and the top 5 players are listed. And what’s even better is that you can have the feedback and results instantly.  You have the option to open the results directly or email a spreadsheet to yourself. So while it can be used for fun and is great for engaging students in the learning process, it is also a way to quickly assess students and provide feedback quickly as well. Even better, they can now play against themselves in the “ghost mode.”  And if time is an issue for you, there are many public Kahoots available that people share and you can borrow them and use them for your class.  Another way I have used Kahoot to enhance student learning is to have them create games for us to use in class. This way they are getting the practice that they need and the class as a whole has more opportunities for fun, engaging ways to learn. All you have to do make sure their questions have correct answers marked and advise students to set the timers for each question accordingly.

So for now, these are three different and quick ways you could try for implementing alternate assessments in your classroom.  Try one of them or all of them, they are easy to use and I think you will find students will be interested and more excited to learn.  By just having something different than a paper and pencil assessment and the ability to use their device to complete it, can lead to positive changes in how your students learn.

Until the next time, keep working on that technology integration and send me your thoughts. I would love to hear how it has been going so far. And if you want to see some examples, feel free to contact me at rdene915@gmail.com or @rdene915. Next time I will talk a bit more about some of these and other assessment tools. Thanks for reading!

VISME: Recent Blog posted on October 9th, 2015

How to Engage Learners With Innovative Presentation Technology

image: http://blog.visme.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Header1-1024×530.png

Educators and students will benefit by creating and learning through the availability of vibrant presentation tools online. Stories come to life, students are more engaged through the variety of possibilities available through technology.

How do students show what they know?

It does not matter what level or what subject one teaches, we all assign projects, homework and other forms of assessments to our students. It is a necessary part of what teachers do in the classroom. While the topics of these tasks vary depending on the grade level or subject taught, quite often the end product comes in a very similar format.

As teachers, we have all assigned the creation of a brochure or poster, or required students to write a report, or some other form of presentation. All of these require specific guidelines and organization skills for both students and teachers.

In years past, before the rise of technology with all of its fantastic and eye-catching tools, student work was limited to only a few formats. Their work came in the form of paper or poster board, handwritten or with drawings, using anything ranging from pencils and pens to paint, markers or even typed on an old-fashioned typewriter.

Sometimes we would have to struggle to read their writing, or battle transporting and storing a massive student project that did not exactly meet the size specifications, but was really well done. Or maybe we had to remove the remnants of the paint, markers or glitter that had become attached to us from one of these projects.

Although these projects may not have exactly met our requirements, they were based on the student’s preferences and creativity, and taught us more about the students themselves. Having completed a project in a way different than instructed allowed students to show their creativity and even have fun with the project completion.

image: http://blog.visme.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Captura-de-pantalla-2015-10-05-a-las-1.50.12-p.m..png

Captura de pantalla 2015-10-05 a las 1.50.12 p.m.

Why technology makes presentations better

Technology for creating presentations produces so many benefits in the classroom.  Students who once shied away from the word “creativity” or considered themselves to be less than artistic, understandably would have had some hesitation in the assignment of a project, knowing they had to exhibit these skills. I was one of these students.

Others who considered themselves to be skilled artistically, or who excelled in creating projects rather than taking quizzes and tests, would also relish the possibility of doing a project rather than taking tests or completing other types of class assessments.  Technology provides a positive experience and outcome for all students.

For teachers, while these types of assessments, in particular, projects and presentations, always provided a good opportunity for the individual talents and interests of the students to shine through, the one aspect that wasn’t as beneficial was the amount of paper involved.

We have all been there. Transporting and storing the varying shapes and sizes of student work. Students would not follow the specifications and rather than turning in a two-page paper, would submit 10 pages or instead of an 8” by 11” paper, the project was completed on a poster board or in a family photo album. The durability of the paper projects was not very good, which limited the ability for students to later share their work or use it as evidence of learning for a portfolio.

The fragility of these projects also made it difficult for teachers to keep them as examples to display or to share with future students. When projects were completed on paper, they served a limited purpose. Paper projects are hard to maintain and transport. The appearance of them diminishes over time as the colors fade and they get shuffled away, lost or forgotten.

image: http://blog.visme.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Captura-de-pantalla-2015-10-05-a-las-1.50.55-p.m..png

Captura de pantalla 2015-10-05 a las 1.50.55 p.m.

Why change from paper to technology-based presentations

Throughout my career as a foreign language teacher, I have assigned and stored many student projects. I have transported menus, family albums, clothing catalogs, dream house drawings and travel brochures of varying shapes and sizes. While I loved seeing each and every project, especially with the amount of student creativity and individuality involved, displaying their work in class and transporting the projects was a bit tricky.

Now, with great tools available for students, creating a presentation and saving the work so that it can be shared later is possible. Any uncertainty of what is expected, the fear of not being able to draw or add enough creativity to a project, do not exist anymore in my mind.

In the educational setting, teachers and students have so many choices available to present information on any topic or share an idea, and there truly are no limits to what can be created.

It increases student independence and provides students a greater opportunity to express themselves and their personal interests. The learning becomes more personalized than ever before, which is the goal in education today.

It is easy to design a rubric and provide students with the information of what we, as teachers, would like for them to create. By giving them guidelines, a starting point and letting them have creative freedom, we empower their learning and enhance the possibilities for independence.

image: http://blog.visme.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Captura-de-pantalla-2015-10-05-a-las-1.51.51-p.m..png

Captura de pantalla 2015-10-05 a las 1.51.51 p.m.

Making the change: Give them a choice

After some reflection, I have changed my practice when it comes to assigning student projects in that I want projects which represent the individuality and the diversity of my students, rather than having every project look exactly the same. So students are given choices. They can choose based on what they find interesting, engaging, funny or is within their comfort level as well.

Students can start with something that is comfortable and then build their skills as we progress throughout the year. Whether you’re creating a presentation for a business meeting or a lesson on photosynthesis, the great thing about these tools is that they are applicable to any area of society, whether it be for professional or personal use.

I am constantly looking for new and engaging tools that my students can use to create projects.I want to challenge them to try new things, take risks and learn how to present information in a different way, but I also want them to have fun and make it meaningful. I limit their use of each tool to one project so that they get experience using a variety of tools, can enhance their technology skills and learn from each other. It is important that they share their knowledge with their classmates and the rest of the school.

new-visme

So how do they make their projects come to life?

There are tools to create videos, comics, cartoons, animations, slideshows, brochures and infographics. In the end, it is all about giving the students choices. Students often ask me which tool they should use, and I give them some options but emphasize that the choice needs to be theirs because that’s what it’s all about. It is an opportunity for them to put on display their talents, abilities and knowledge.

Students have become so accustomed to being told exactly what to do that having a choice can be a little shocking at first. When we as teachers give  students a choice and enable them to guide their own learning, we empower them and, at the same time we also benefit because we learn more about each student.

Some of the tools that are frequently used in my classes are: Visme, Haiku Deck, Powtoon, GoAnimate, Emaze, Piktochart, Smore and WeVideo.

Each of these tools offers so many choices that every student can find something that appeals to them. When they have a choice in how to create something, it piques their curiosity and they become more engaged in the process. As they work on the project, the learning process becomes more meaningful, and they enjoy creating a project that is completely unique.

image: http://blog.visme.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Captura-de-pantalla-2015-10-05-a-las-1.48.54-p.m..png

Captura de pantalla 2015-10-05 a las 1.48.54 p.m.

What can they do?

Students can create a family project in which they use celebrities, or cartoon characters with props, or import real family photos and learn to create a movie and edit their work. There are no limits to what students can do with their presentations.

All disciplines can benefit by using technology tools for student work. In any course where a student has to create a visual representation of a topic, or make a presentation or video, technology offers a limitless variety of engaging, vibrant choices, for all learning styles, levels and interests.

If I would have assigned the same paper-and-pencil project with the exact same requirements to each of my students, I would not have learned as much about their interests and skills. Visme and other web tools not only help students create and share what they have learned, they empower students by letting them drive their learning.

Read more at http://blog.visme.co/engage-learners-presentation-technology/#ACEQzRgL0lzoVvY7.99

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