How I Got Started Using Technology To Assess Student Learning


Thank you Terry Heick for publishing this post today in TeachThought.

How I Got Started Using Technology To Assess Student Learning

by Rachelle Dene Poth

If you are looking for another way to integrate technology into your classroom, why not start with assessment?

In order to learn what our students need and how we can better design our lessons to prepare them, we use formative and summative assessments.  Assessments are vital in for determining what learning has occurred, what areas need to be reinforced, and what our next steps must be. This kind of information helps to guide our instruction and provide additional opportunities for our students. Assessments give us the information we need to provide feedback to them, to guide their learning, and to set new goals.

(See ‘The Most Important Question Every Question Should Answer.’)

Providing timely, relevant learning feedback is essential to personal growth and reflection for student learning.  So how can we make assessments more effective, informative and engaging too?

Why use technology for assessments?

Depending on the number of classes and students in each class, creating assessments in a variety of forms, grading them and providing feedback in a timely manner, can become quite time consuming. However, with the numerous digital tools available, teachers have many choices available for assessing students.

Options exist for using quick entrance and exit slips, surveys, having students interact in discussions both in and outside of the classroom, just for a few examples. There are so many possibilities, and what’s even better is how quickly results are obtained, can be evaluated and feedback provided to the students.

Teachers have choices in the types of feedback they receive. In addition to live results, teachers can save data in downloadable spreadsheets, receive emails with the results and some tools offer other formats as well. These all enhance the ability of teachers to further their understanding of where the students are in terms of their learning and what areas need a bit more focus and instruction.

What changes will you notice in your classroom?

As a foreign language teacher, I need to assess my students regularly because learning a foreign language, especially at the lower levels, requires an ongoing evaluation of the students’ understanding and ability to use the language.  Providing regular feedback is critical for students to learn structure, build their vocabulary and enhance the four language skills.

Teachers with larger classes find that providing assessments and giving feedback to the students in a timely manner can be challenging and need a way to make this process easier.  However, sometimes due to other time constraints, or the length of assessments, grading student work and returning it the next day, in spite of one’s best efforts, is not always possible, and for this there are solutions.

With the variety of digital tools available, many of these concerns have disappeared and make a tremendous difference in the efficiency of classrooms and teaching procedures, and the types of assessments that teachers can create for students to meet the diverse learning styles.

Where to begin: What are some tools to start with?

Using tools such as GoFormative, Kahoot!, Quizizz, Riddle, SurveyMonkey, and others like these, I have quickly created discussion questions, quizzes, reflection surveys, or combination of all of these.  There are so many options for creating formative assessments by using any of these and other tools available today.  As the students finish, teachers can see the live results or download the results directly to their computer, and can analyze the data in a variety of ways. It is a great way to focus on the needs of each individual student, but also for the class as a whole, to address what the areas are that the students need some help with.

Integrating tools for assessment such as these, makes the use of entrance and exit slips easier and quicker to use.  Having students complete an entrance slip for example, using one of these tools at the beginning of a period, enables you to have the results within a few minutes and use this valuable feedback to help guide the lesson for the day and make changes as needed based on the data.  The results can then provide valuable feedback to the students, one on one, and help them to work on their personal growth and reflection.

Teachers can refer back to the results to track student growth, to note patterns in certain classes or students, and to work with students on determining strengths and weaknesses. I have found it very beneficial to my professional growth and use these results to reflect on my instructional methods. 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 digital tools for assessment

So many options are available for assessing students, giving them a way to express thoughts, learning and be involved in the classroom. These tools enable teachers to conduct this type of evaluative work faster, decreases the paperwork, and provides more time for working with the students using the data.  Students benefit because they have this feedback when they need it most and also learn additional vital technology skills in the process.

Some quick examples: Use GoFormative to have students complete assessments in class, respond to them with feedback instantly and track their progress. They can draw, write, watch a video and much more. Kahoot! and Quizizz can be used in class as an engaging way to assess students and then use the information to focus on areas which need review. Quizizz can even be assigned as homework, which students actually ask for.

And taking it a step further, students can create their own games with either of these, further enhancing their learning and involvement in the course. Riddle and SurveyMonkey can be used for quizzes, reflective surveys, and more, it all depends on what your needs are.


These are just a few of many ways to use these tools. Each of the tools mentioned 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, posted on a class website or written on the board.  The ability to design, share and evaluate students using these and other tools is remarkable.
So if you’re looking for better, more effective ways to provide feedback to your students, and to reduce the amount of paper used, I recommend trying out one of these tools.

There are many options available but these are just a few that I used when I started integrating more technology into my classroom and that have had a tremendous impact on the assessments I have created for students. My students have responded positively and truly enjoy having alternate ways to show what they know and can do with the material.

Using these tools really enables teachers to personalize instruction and help students to reach their fullest potential in the classroom.


Images from each website

Blendspace: How it can benefit your classroom

What Is Blendspace?

 Thanks to Terry Heick and TeachThought for publishing this today.

What Is Blendspace? Using Blendspace In The Classroom

by Rachelle Dene Poth

In my prior two posts, I talked about the way I started to gradually work toward integrating more technology into my classroom.

I focused on what I thought was an area that could use some improvement, and found that there was a disconnect occurring.  I needed a better way to communicate and collaborate with my students and for them to access help when they needed it and the resources that would help them to be successful.  So for me I started with Celly (a messaging app) and once I felt comfortable, integrated Edmodo as our classroom LMS.


Once I felt like these were having a positive impact on my classroom, which came in the form of solving problems of lost papers, forgotten assignments, and missed learning opportunities due to class absences.  I began searching for another way to make some improvements and found a tool called Blendspace.

Change 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.  In the search for answers to your initial questions, new questions arise, And that is the nature of the game. it becomes an ongoing cycle which helps in the promotion of goal setting and growth as teachers.

How Does Blendspace Fit?

Blendspace is a tool that provides many possibilities and initially I used it as a method of curating resources and flipping my classroom. There are similar tools available, and regardless of which you choose, having one place to keep your resources is a really great idea. So how do you make the decision of which to rely on?

Looking at sites such as Graphite or EdShelf can help. Reading blogs and participating in Twitter chats are also great ways to find out what others are using and their thoughts.  For example, using something like Graphite or EdShelf, you can get a summary of the uses of a web tool, read the reviews and stories about user experiences. Hearing about how other educators are using tools like Blendspace is tremendously helpful when deciding on what tool to integrate into your classroom.

3 Ways To Use Blendspace In The Classroom

1. Flip Your Classroom

I like Blendspace because it really does provide a variety of benefits to me both personally and professionally.  It can be used as a way to flip the classroom and to save that vital classroom time for student interactions, engaging activities, or having students work independently while teachers facilitate their activities and provide feedback one-on-one.

Blendspace can be used to create a lesson using the TES Resources tab, then shared with students through their class account or through a direct link. Regardless of how the lesson is shared, students have access to many resources and can learn asynchronously outside of the classroom, on their own schedule, using whatever device they choose.

This means that, in ideal circumstances, learning can take place anywhere at any time. The choice is the students’ and that’s the great thing about technology and the usefulness of tools like Blendspace. It can also be used to store favorite web tools, presentations, or one’s personal work. It makes it easier to share ideas with colleagues, and organized teaching and learning materials with students.


2. Present Student Work In Class

Blendspace is a way to avoid fumbling with flash drives, losing valuable class time opening emails and attachments.  All of the student projects can be added by their URL or uploaded into one lesson, given it a title, and in class, only one lesson has to be opened to display the student work for the class to enjoy.


3. Build A Lesson

Building a lesson for any level or discipline is easy with Blendspace. Simply choose your topic and by using the TES Resource tools provided such as Google Search, Educreations, Google Drive, Dropbox, uploads from your computer, and more, you can quickly build a lesson.  All it takes is finding the resource and dragging it into place in your lesson.

You can add boxes, move items around, and no matter what you do it is done quickly. It really is a great way to share information, keep track of projects, and so much more. These are just some of the reasons why I am really happy that I found Blendspace and how its use has benefited my classroom. I recommend checking it out if you have not, and letting me know in the comments below what your experience was!


How to Use Multimedia Presentations in the Classroom

Thanks to Nayomi and Visme for publishing my recent post on the use of VISME in the classroom for presentations and featuring some of the work of my students, infographics for Spanish III and Childhood Projects for Spanish II.



How to Use Multimedia Presentations in the Classroom


Project-based learning is a great way for students to show what they know and can do with the material.  It is a way for students to demonstrate this learning in a unique way that meets their own interests and skills.  Through the numerous possibilities with technology, there are many options available for students to create dynamic displays of their learning.


VismeworkingStudents searching for a unique way to create a project, full of a variety of themes, styles, and more, have found Visme to be exactly what they were searching for.  By choosing Visme, students can design using a variety of fonts, backgrounds, images, icons, animations, plus have the possibilities for including audio or embedding video, and much more for their creation.


Digital Tools for Presentations


spanish4 copyWhile the content and themes can stay relatively unchanged over the course of one’s teaching career, the variety of options for having one’s students show their learning have changed dramatically.  Project based learning is a very authentic way to assess their learning and I have used project based learning for more assessments over the past few years.  The reason is because of the great potential I see for offering students a choice in their work and the availability of so many digital tools for their projects, which engage and motivate them in their learning.

In my experience, I have changed the types of assessments I have my students do and offer more opportunities for students to have choices. I have always loved looking at student work, in the traditional format of paper and poster, and seeing their creativity come through in their projects.

With the use of digital tools like Visme, I have found it makes it more interesting and meaningful for them, they are more engaged in their learning, and they have fun trying out these new tools and doing something different than they had done in the past. Another positive effect is that teachers benefit as well by seeing the innovative work the students produce.  The uniqueness of their work is inspiring and while it shows us what they have learned, it also teaches us more about who they are.


What Do Students Think?


ClassroomPresentationBecause technology changes and trying something new can be scary at times, it is not uncommon to hear pleas from students who would rather complete their project using paper or PowerPoint. Teaching foreign languages, I often want them to add their voice to some of their projects or embed a video, and so having choices available which enable students to use one tool for creating their project makes it much easier for them and for the teacher as well.

With Visme, students have so many choices in their hands that are adaptable to any content, in any course, and in any area of society. But for students creating presentations with tools like Visme, it also enables them to learn a lot about the language by adding in various elements from the resources, and also helps them to further develop technology skills and create a visually engaging and fun product by taking advantage of all of the tools and animations that are available.

How Can Students Use This?


SpanishpresentationSome of the examples that students have used this for, are in Spanish I, students created projects to describe their families and were able to upload their own photos, have the images appear on the screen by setting the timers with descriptions to make an entrance on the screen.

They could use some of the icons available by searching within the Images tab and they also can change the color, size, and appearance of each of these, and they really enjoy working on the project. And create a very dynamic, visually engaging presentation that they are proud of. They also develop other skills such as learning about design, artistic layouts, and more when they create a presentation.

In Spanish II, students have created projects to talk about their childhood and schooling experiences, as well as their community. There are so many options available within the resources for building their presentations and for really creating a dynamic visualization of their childhood, school, community and more. It also enables them to present their project to their classmates and design a vibrant project that they will definitely remember the content cover and enjoy working with the tool.


When the Students Become the Teachers


spanish3 copyIn addition to the Spanish courses, I have taken students to technology conferences where they participate in the student showcase and demonstrate how they use technology in our classroom. One particular student who was really resistant to trying any type of new technology, had seen one of my presentations and decided to give it a try. For her individual project for the conference, she decided to create a presentation using Visme, and use it to inform those attending the conference about how we use Edmodo, our learning management system.

She created a vibrant presentation showing the uses of Edmodo and at the showcase she engaged all of those that came to the table and was able to tell them so much about the presentation, her experience and what she learned from it. I could see how proud she was of her work and how comfortable she was sharing it with everyone there.  Using Visme enabled her to take a risk with something new, develop her skills, and reflect on her growth in the process.  It also developed her leadership and advocacy skills and led her to teach others.

In each of these situations, the students were able to use Visme for each task and they now have another tool they can use in another class or recommend to a friend or family member that could be used for any other type of purpose.

So the result is that while students have used this in my foreign language classroom to create projects which are for describing their life, their family, talking about food or any content that we are covering, they are learning about a presentation tool that they can take and use later on, that they can share with others, and they also build their confidence skills in the process.


Promote Student Expression​ through Storytelling

Published on March 17, 2016 by Kidblog. Thankful for the opportunity to be a Blogger for Kidblog.

Promote Student Expression​ through Storytelling

Practicing commenting on paper @woodlandtaglets @anna_bilyeuDepending on particular class content, concepts, or topics, blogging can have a strong, positive impact on several aspects of the learning process.  Recently, I have found that providing students with a short prompt and having them create or tell a story has been extremely beneficial. In doing this, they not only build knowledge and skills in the relevant academic area, but also improve their writing, literacy, and critical thinking skills.  In addition to these learning opportunities, blogging also gives students a means to build skills in technology and become reflective writers in the process.

One way to guide students in writing successful stories is to provide them with writing prompts. Typically, I aim to supply a writing prompt focused on a certain theme we have been covering in class.  This assignment enables me to provide differentiation in their learning and lends itself to more student creativity and choice. I post a writing prompt related to a recent class lesson or theme and ask the students to be creative with their responses. Being a foreign language teacher, I often provide my students with a few specific elements that I would like the responses to contain. Depending on the content area, these elements range from the use of a specific verb or verb tense, a focus on grammar usage, topic of discussion, specific style of narration, or a method of debating an issue.

One example in a foreign language class may be discussing one’s childhood.  By providing a prompt which asks for students to discuss their childhood, they are focused on narrating in the past tense and using specific themed vocabulary.  By requiring students to use a few specific verbs in the blog, it helps to guide their practice with an area in which students may be having some difficulty.

Using blogging in this way has helped promote student discussion and creativity and has served as an alternate means for student assessment. It enables teachers to provide reinforcement of specific content in an individualized way that promotes more authentic learning. For students, it provides a unique way to complete a homework assignment, share ideas, and develop critical thinking skills and learning in multiple areas.

Kidblog has been an awesome medium to get students creating and writing in class. One feature of Kidblog that has helped increase engagement for students in any writing prompt and, in some cases, may also be used as a prompt itself, is the ability to add a photo to your post. Using the photo as a focus helps promote discussion and increase curiosity. Kidblog provides students with the option to enhance creativity through the diverse images and formatting choices. Images and customized formatting brings students’ writing to life and provides a way for instruction to be personalized for each student.

Giving students options empowers them in their choice for writing, and leads to a more engaging and fun learning experience.

Putting All Your Teaching In One Place With An LMS

Thanks again to Terry Heick for the opportunity!  Originally published in TeachThought on February 10, 2016

Putting All Your Teaching In One Place With An LMS

by Rachelle Dene Poth

If you are starting to integrate technology into your classroom, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with so many options available.

The number of choices available for each area of integration are tremendous. The best advice I can give is to start with one thing at a time.  Find an area that could use some enhancement, and work on it for a while.  Learn about it, reflect on it, figure out if it truly is of benefit to your students and your classroom.  The key words being you and your.  It has to be something that will benefit your environment and your students.

Once you feel comfortable with what you have been using and your students are comfortable as well, then it is time to start thinking about something else that could help to improve the opportunities and learning in your classroom. There are many options, and I will share with you what my next step was, but it may not be the exact thing that you need.  As a suggestion, perhaps the next step is to find a way to create more organization for your class materials.

How can your students access extra copies of their papers or review the requirements for a project that’s due the next day? Is there a way you have to share some web tools or review activities with them that is easily located?  If not, this would be another great step. If this sounds like something that would be helpful, then what you might consider an LMS (Learning Management System).

Making The Choice

For myself, searching for a way to do all of these things was another way to solve the “disconnect” I felt was happening initially.  So after doing some research, I came across Edmodo and decided to try it out for a while. Although I found and still use Edmodo, I will also say that there are many wonderful learning management systems available and depending on where and what you teach, Edmodo may or may not be the best choice for you.

But I believe that each classroom should have a common site.  A place where teachers and students can access course materials, communicate and collaborate on assignments.  A place where students can interact with their classmates and more importantly, receive help when needed.

For my classroom Edmodo is a great choice.   I have spent time using and learning about several other LMS and I can tell you about them, because I think it is important to know the options. I have continued to use Edmodo because my students stay with me throughout their Spanish studies, and it makes sense to keep them in the system, so they can see their growth, so I can track their progress and have access to the materials which then become a part of their digital portfolio.

Maybe an LMS is not what you want but instead you choose to create a website, for example through edublogs, Google, Weebly, Wix or even use Wikispaces as a way to post resources and links. No matter what you choose you can’t go wrong. Centralizing your materials for your class and your students is a great idea and both you and them will benefit from it.


What were the effects?

Going back for a moment to my initial word of “disconnect,” perhaps it is clearer now how these two tools really help to solve that problem.  Individually either one would work in my favor to promote the communication and collaboration with the students and to make class materials and resources available.

However, the combination of them builds even more into what I can offer because the students can be assessed, they can have their voice expressed in many ways using Edmodo or Celly. Then, each year we can track their progress through tools like Edmodo. It took some time to learn how each of these could be used, but it was well worth it and I am still learning. And more importantly, the students are benefiting tremendously.

So again I ask you, what would help you the most? If you were asked to name one more thing that you could change, determine what that is, investigate and try something new. Take that first step, work with it and then continue to add more.  Again, you may find that your choice is not the best but give it some time before making a final decision. There is always a risk involved, but as educators we are role models for our students.

Being a role model means taking a risk, confronting any roadblocks, and setting new goals after reflecting. All of these lead us to learning and growth and isn’t that what we want for our students?