Formative: How to make instruction individualized without making yourself crazy


Thank you David Kwan for the opportunity to share this in the community and be a part of the Dream Team.

How to make instruction individualized without making yourself crazy

Rachelle Dene Poth


Having students complete different assessments or take the same assessment and trying to come to an understanding of the needs of the class as a whole as well as the individual student needs, is a very intricate part of what we as educators must do. As an educator, it is very important to be able to monitor the progress of and provide meaningful feedback for each of our students.The students rely on us for this feedback and guidance in order to help them learn the material, improve their skills and grow as a learner.This feedback is critical for their success and should be provided as frequently and timely as possible. Depending on the subject matter and the grade level that you teach, individualized instruction can prove to be quite time consuming and requires a lot of multitasking.  For teachers, time management and keen observational skills are key.  


It is so important that we provide learning experiences which are personalized to meet their needs and lead to mastery of the content material. So how do we do this? And how do we do this without driving ourselves crazy in the process and spending so much time on it that it takes away from our time to work with and support all of our students?  Without the use of ed tech tools to help us create these assessments and provide learning opportunities and support for our students, we would end up only meeting the needs of a few students.  So what can we do?


Edtech: Resource for tools to provide individualized instruction quickly

The answer quite simply is to turn to any of the wide variety of digital assessment tools that are now available. Through the numerous digital tools readily accessible to educators and learners, it is so much easier to provide individualized instruction and assess student needs. We can give students options in how they are assessed and learn from their responses, exactly what their needs are, instantly. Through these tools, we can analyze student data and provide feedback quickly, without the loss of valuable instructional time and lesson preparation time. And because these digital tools enable every action to be expedited, we used less time and keep ourselves sane in the process.  Students need this feedback so it can help them develop their skills.

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Edtech: Promotes student driven learning


Using some of the tools available also provides tremendous options for student assessment and also for student driven learning. Students can be assigned to create something to use as part of their learning process. The students have the opportunity to lead by designing practice assessments and sharing them with their class. They can then use the data from prior assessments to reflect and come up with a plan for their own learning goals, creating their personalized learning path through  collaboration with the teacher.  Working in this way helps students to become more empowered and have choices in their learning experiences;allows the teacher to facilitate the learning in the process. This is also great for working on those important relationships that help to build a solid foundation in the classroom environment.


SO what are the tools available to help us keep sane in this individualization process?


One example is using Go Formative.  Students can engage in activities which enable teachers to see the live responses appear instantly and provide immediate written feedback to each student, when it is needed the most. Teachers see the responses as they are being entered and for some assessments in which students are “showing their work”, this is very valuable.  For students, the ability to receive this immediate feedback leads to more engagement, increases instructional time and allows both the teacher and students to really focus on the needs and to plan next steps or provide extra practice as needed.


With Go Formative, teachers can set up class accounts, which will enable the teacher to fully monitor the work and provide ongoing feedback for the students with accounts.   Activities can also be shared with students who do not have accounts yet by simply sharing the URL.


Other tools for individualization

Some other tools that I have found useful for some quick assessments and for having students complete activities are Kahoot, Quizizz, Riddle, Responster and Socrative.  The type of information I want to get from my students, drives the decision for which of these I ultimately decide to use with my classes.


Possible uses for these tools: For student reflection


If you are looking for ways to find out if students have needs or concerns, or to have students reflect after an assessment or other activity,these tools provide options for question formats and do not require students to have an account.  For example, for a general reflection, perhaps after midterm exams,  I tend to create something using tools such as Responster or Socrative because of the data that is compiled and quickly available, and students can easily access the survey.  The results from their responses can be accessed and analyzed live and saved for future reference.  Being able to look at the student responses enables the teacher to really focus on their needs and also better understand the students, their backgrounds and make important connections.
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For entrance and exit slips

If I want to assess my students on content or design something for use as a quick entrance or exit slip, I will use Kahoot, Quizizz or Riddle which provide engaging themes and lots of options for question choices and including images and other add-ins. Each of these also provide the ability for the teacher to see individual student responses and to save the results in various formats to use for providing feedback and also for helping students to see the areas they need to work on.


Overall benefits of  edtech tools and how they improve individualized instruction

By using edtech tools, students can create their own assessments and activities, which can be used for their practice, geared toward their individual needs for the material.  An additional benefit of this is that these student created assessments can be shared with the class, therefore providing more resources for everyone to use, enjoy and learn from. Another added benefit is that the teacher has the ability to see the needs of each individual student and also in the process of having students create these assessments and games, continues to provide the individualized instruction and practice they need and stays sane in the process.


So it really comes down to finding a resource that will help to provide enhanced learning opportunities for the students, better and faster ways to assess students and have that immediate feedback, and staying sane through it all.  Digital tools like Go Formative are of tremendous benefit to teachers and students and facilitate the delivery of individualized instruction in many ways. And they help to make differentiation possible without going crazy while doing so.



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