Friday, February 7, 2014

Formative Assessment with Web2.0: Good for everyone! And not just 1:1.

      I review and evaluate the ways in which I integrate technology into my class on a daily basis in order to strategically and purposefully plan out my technology integration.  However, I was not at this point a year ago!  I would just throw it in wherever I could, so I feel that I have progressed a ton since then.  I will admit though, I don't just do it for my students!  I am on a journey towards a "paperless" classroom, but this year, I have also realized how much I can actually benefit from using technology in my classroom.  As a full time teacher AND mom, technology has begun to help me reach one of my personal growth goals; to become a better, more informed teacher.  I want to formatively assess daily in order to stay on top of my students' progress towards our learning targets, and technology is allowing me to more easily work towards achieving this goal.  

      In order to reduce paper usage, engage my students more, and make my life easier, I have begun to utilize our favorite web 2.0 resources to formatively assess my students in an every day manner.  In our language arts curriculum, post-it notes and note-booking are relied on heavily for students to do daily work during their independent reading.  I used to also have them jot down an answer to a question or a response to a learning target at the end of class and turn it in and I, with glazed over eyes, sat down with hundreds of sticky notes and notebooks to assess.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with post-its and notebooks, so I began searching for a more "friendly" alternative.  

      I decided to try out the Socrative app.  I had heard about it and seen it at TCEA and on Twitter, but I did not expect it to work as beautifully as it did. Socrative can be run as an app or on any web browser.  I used the question that I would have normally asked my students to respond to on post-its, and created a short answer quiz on Socrative.  I logged in and projected the quiz on my Activboard and each student logged in to the room with the given room number and answered the quiz question on his or her tablet.  We didn't have any problems!  And the best advantage of using Socrative as formative assessment, is that it dumps all of the student responses into a nice, neat spread sheet and emails it to you!  So instead of taking home stacks of sticky notes paper clipped together and 50 notebooks, I only needed to carry two sheets of paper and I could easily grade all of my students at a glance!

      Another way I have found to decrease the amount of paper we are using and that I am lugging home, is to use TodaysMeet as a back channel while we do our daily read aloud.  TodaysMeet is a website that allows people to join, enter their name, and take part in a real-time conversation.  Normally, I would have my students jotting notes in their notebook as I read aloud and many of them would pose questions or opinions about what was happening in the book.  I would instruct them to leave their notebooks open on their desks while they were at lunch and then I would walk around the room and quickly assess with a pen in one hand and a sandwich in the other!  (Not the greatest way to spend your 20 min. lunch "break!")  I rarely got around to all of the student notebooks, and in addition, I would have to pile the other 25 notebooks from my other class into a big box and drag them home.  How overwhelming/annoying/non-practical is that?  

      To resolve this issue, I turned to TodaysMeet.  You simply create the room by giving it a name and choosing how long you want it to stay active, up to a year.  This allows me to go back after class, at home on my laptop or tablet and easily assess my students' responses/thoughts/questions/opinions during the read aloud!  BUT- it gets even better- not only am I able to assess the questions they pose, but I am also able to assess their responses and feedback to their classmates' comments!  I encourage them to build off of their classmates' posts, just like we would normally do in a whole class conversation.  I want my students to be able to interact more while I am reading instead of sitting and being left to their own thoughts.  TodaysMeet adds another dimension, the interactive collaboration piece, to our classroom technology dynamics.  (Take your class to the computer lab during your read aloud and let them participate in a live discussion, each on their own computer!)

      Before we went 1:1, I started to integrate technology and to make student work and responses visible to other students by using padlet.  Now that we have our tablets, I still utilize padlet to formatively assess my students in reading and word study.  You can easily share the link to students through a QR code or Edmodo!  I love both methods, but what I did before tablets, was log my two student computers and teacher cart on to padlet and when students were ready to add their answer to the padlet, they could independently do so while I worked with a small group.  Multiple students can access and work on the padlet at the same time.  Teacher can moderate privacy preferences under "modify this wall" on side bar to the right so that if students have the link, they can only view write/edit their own posts but not edit or delete others' posts.  

      Padlet is also great because you can keep the padlet for an unlimited amount of time- another resource I could readily access at home to assess, no paper involved!  Padlet also allows you to export in different formats; image, PDF, Excel spreadsheet, and image capture to print out and easily grade at home.  I don't just use padlet for assessment.  I also used padlet this year to create a space for my students to document and share their reading goals at the beginning of the year and to communicate their stories/thoughts about Red Ribbon, drug free, week.  Here is a list of the padlets that we did this year:

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