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!

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