Recently a fellow teacher who currently works abroad in Japan, mentioned that students are not given tests until the 4th grade. That they are taught manners, how to be students, citizens, and most of all children. It got me thinking about assessments in elementary school. End of unit assessments, exit tickets, quizzes, etc. should all be quick and if it can be...FUN.
So here are a few of my favorite digital formative assessment tools:
Plickers is FREE and the teacher is the only one who needs a device. When teachers enter their roster students are assigned a number which corresponds to a Plicker card. A Plicker card is similar to a QR code as it is scannable. It consists of 4 sides each of which correspond to the letters A, B, C, and D. Students rotate the card with their answer choice at the top (pointing to the ceiling). On the board can be seen the question, answer options, and student names in red. Once students hold their answers up and you scan them their names will turn green, this signals students to place their cards down. Results can be saved and downloaded.
Kahoot is also FREE but each student requires a device. With Kahoot you can create your own assessment or choose from the gallery. Students must join each Kahoot quiz before you can get started, they do this using a code that is provided. This is when they enter their name and are ready for the quiz. On the board students can see the question and answers with correlating shapes/colors. Once teachers read the question it is important that as they read each answer they mention the correlating shape/color. On student devices they can only see the color/shape. The responses can be downloaded but you must do so on the spot as the site will not save the results.
Padlet is great for students to post their responses on! There is a free version but you are only allowed to create a limited number of Padlets. This is a site where you can create virtual bulletin boards and students can post links, images, videos, files, etc. It can be very engaging and an area where groups can keep their work.
Google Forms is another great tool if your students have Google accounts. I like to use this with my upper grade students. You can add various types of questions; long answer, short answer, multiple choice, drop down list, check boxes, etc., as well as include links, images, videos, etc. The best part is students don't just take assessments on the Google app but can also create assessments. This is a great option as you can use student created questions in a unit assessment.
Instagram has become one of the top social media tools in the world. The main cause being that it is simple to use. Just take or upload a photo or video, choose to add a filter, add a caption, and use the pound symbol followed by text or emoji to hashtag and share with others.
My Instagram account, @msoz_lab, has many uses:
· following education groups
· sharing information with families
· promoting my program
· showcasing student work
Through this account I follow those who focus on STEAM, technology, science, maker space, etc. STEAM is a hot topic right now and I like to see best practices as well as share my own. This keeps me knowledgeable about new topics, products, and methods. I also follow educational groups like ISTE and Edutopia, keeping me up to date on current news regarding technology and STEAM.
Instagram is great for following well-known technology educators like Brittany Washburn and Kerry Tracy who always have great ideas. Both link their personal website and Teachers Pay Teachers account to share all that they do in their classroom. Like them, I too linked my personal website on which I blog and share many resources for classroom teachers and students. In my profile, I also provide a hashtag (#ozlab9) that students or families can use to share their projects or give credit.
Since I post pictures of student work I can share this account with families on our school website. This helps to promote my program because I additionally post about my Amazon wish list or Donors Choose projects. Posting images with students is risky, however, I’ve covered each child's face with an emoji to protect their privacy and only post the grade level or class number. Don't forget to include social media in your Acceptable Use Policy.
Classroom teachers need social media forms? Ashley, a fellow teacher, shares them on her website. These are a great resource and act just like walking trip slips and photo release forms.
Benefits of Blogging in Education
Blogging is a great way to express yourself, something that students love. It helps to motivate students especially those who don't participate to read or write in an educational term. Even better, it aids students in communicating and collaborating about educational topics in a safe environment.
Ways to Blog in Education
How One Starts to Blog
Blogging is easy when you have a purpose. Find something you are passionate and knowledgable about and you've got a blog! As technology teacher and coach everything on this blog will be related to the educational uses of technology.
Not Ms. Fix It!
As a technology coach I'm not here to fix your broken technology. Instead, I'm here to aid teachers in improving their practice through pedagogically appropriate technologies. I provide a range of support to teachers in integrating technology into their daily teaching.
I also teach students in Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade! Using the standards provided by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) I educate students on various skills pertaining to technology. From how to turn a computer on to how to code, I've got a busy schedule.
To Infinity and Beyond
Being a technology coach in today's education world is not so easy! There's a lot of push back from teachers who don't like change, but today's students have changed. They need to be knowledgable not only about the core subject but also about "new basics" (Poore, 2016). The new basics prepare students for college and future careers. Therefore, technology coaches must be agents of change. We must inspire and engage teachers in the new technologies and provide ongoing support. We cannot just show them and hope they will try it, we need to be in the classroom and model it with their students and follow up. Essentially, we are the doctors of education bridging the gap.
How to Reach Teachers
I have presented many professional developments concerning technology tools and resources only to find that more than half of the participants didn't utilize any of it. Over the years I have improved my delivery of the content, formed friendships with many, and surveyed participants to bring more technology into the classroom. The article, The 5 Coaching Strategies that Helped Me Connect with Resistant Teachers, provided me a few more tips on how to work with resistant teachers. Specifically, being curious is something I must improve on. This can easily be done with a Google Form inquiring what's holding them back, how we could work together, and how else I could help them find a solution. Another resource that I found useful was the Technology Coaches Weebly Sites. There are so many resources on this Weebly that it blew my mind. I can use the "Free Resources" and the "Coaching Books" tabs to improve my practices. My favorite tab is the "Coach Pln" as I am now connected to the Ed Tech Coaches' Network. Visit both of these sites to help improve your coaching!
SKITCH is an application from Evernote that tries to make information that tries to make information as easy to relay virtually as it is in real life, by making it easy to capture screenshots and annotate them (or any other image). It's not as feature packed as professional alternatives, but that is not a bad thing.
It is a free app that helps you communicate visually with friends, co-workers, and the world. Annotate images with arrows, shapes, text, and more. Use Skitch to sketch something new, mark up maps, screen captures, or even a photo. Then save or share your Skitch annotation to help others see and understand your ideas. Getting everyone on the same page has never been easier.
With Skitch you can:
Formative assessment in a snap! This tool is awesome for the teacher who doesn’t have a classroom set of devices! No more screaming out answers during a lecture. Students just turn their card where their selected answer points towards the top. Your device does the rest. Their answers go in and populate immediately on the teacher’s device screen. Use Plickers for quick checks for understanding to know whether your students are understanding big concepts and mastering key skills. Plickers is a great app for teachers who don’t have access to a full class set of iPads. Teachers print out a set of cards. On each numbered card, there is a graphic that resembles a QR code. The teacher asks a question and the students turn their card so that their answer choice is at the top of the graphic. Holding it up for the teacher to scan, the teacher opens the Plickers app and “scans” the cards. Since the cards are assigned by number, answers populate on the teacher’s device. This could be used in multiple choice and true/false type questioning. Additionally, it adds a technology component where it previously looked hopeless.
One device in the teacher’s hands, real-time data from responses, fast, easy setup and use. Great for teachers who are new at adding technology into their instruction. Student participation and data tracking. Student could use the same card all year. Cards must be printed and laminated to get plenty of use, however you can always print a new card for free.
Looking for unlimited ebooks to read to your class? Well Epic (app and website) is the digital tool for you! This resource is free to educators and provides you with unlimited ebooks as well as audio books for kids ages 2-12. With more than 15,000 books to choose from you can read the books or watch videos online or offline, on the web, or on mobile devices. Many selections are by well-known authors or from major publishers, and the collection includes English, Spanish, and Chinese books. Books can be searched for by subject, genre, and age, and some are audio or read-to-me versions.
Parents can sign up too, but it's a subscription based service. The resources has a reading stats page, time spent reading, number of pages flipped, and books read are tracked, and kids can earn badges and rewards based on certain milestones. There's also a community section where kids can share opinions on books (there's no chatting or cross-commenting), but you can opt in or out. Note that younger kids could switch their settings or change profiles and see books for older kids, but there's nothing wildly inappropriate available, and parents can see everything a kids reads through their own account.
EDPuzzle allows teachers to upload their own video lessons or select pre-made content from pre-existing collections, such as YouTube, LearnZillion, Kahn Academy etc. Teachers can enhance their videos by adding their own voice comments and embedding short response or multiple choice questions throughout them. A cool feature of EDPuzzle is “check for understanding,” in which videos can be set so that when assigned, students must respond to the questions before continuing their viewing of the content. To help teachers with assessing their students, the site collects data on student completion and performance, making homework grading easy and efficient. It provides feedback on understanding immediately for students and teachers.
Castle Learning allows students to practice and prepare for state exams (i.e. Algebra Regents). It provides instructional support through online review, assessment, and data reporting. Both teachers and students are given a lot of flexibility with assignments. It is critical to know your students, as you can create an assignment from scratch, selecting the questions you think work best with your students. There are a countless number of questions to choose from, which also include state administered regents’ exam questions.
Castle Learning supports differentiated instruction. Students who have testing modifications or have specific learning needs can choose an audio option where the questions are read aloud to them. If you have ESL students, the questions can be displayed in different languages. To help with scaffolding, there is an option so that students can be given hints and opportunities to answer questions again if they answered them incorrectly at first. Teachers can track students progress and evaluate each assignment by collecting data that Castle Learning produces. The teacher can also see how long a student spent on the exam, when the students started/ended (or did not end) the exam, how many questions answered correctly, incorrectly, and how many hints a student used.