Monday, May 25, 2015

10 Digital Tools for Formative Assessments

When it comes to technology for assessment, the options can be overwhelming. Digital tools ... 
  • Work well on different devices, 
  • Specialize in a variety of tasks, and 
  • Vary in difficulty to learn.

I recommend exploring a few and choosing one to try for at least three months. Sometimes trying too many digital tools can take a lot of time. If one doesn't work well for your pedagogical needs, try something else. 

1. Quizlet for Building Background 

Sign up is only one click with a Google account, and students can join their teacher's class. Quizlet tracks progress on each deck, which can be helpful to quickly determine which concepts or terms need more class time. 

I use Quizlet for homework and practice checks to guide lesson planning. The scatter game pictured below is from a deck about causes and effects of the Spanish-American War.



2. Plickers to Check for Understanding 

No batteries. No clunky software. No need to even stay in the classroom. Just laminate the paper response tool and install the app on your mobile device. 

With Plickers, teachers can easily insert selected response items to check for understanding, and kids love the results graph because they can instantly see how they measure up to the class. 



3. Today's Meet for Current Events

Current events is an item on our homework menu, but for the longest time I couldn't figure out a way for students to share links to articles. 

Now, we use Today's Meet because we can access it in one place all year and easily scroll through the submissions while projecting it on the big screen.


4. Remind Stamps and Chat for Homework

How many ways can you use Stamps to collect responses outside of school hours (or during class)? 

My favorite stampable message is to summarize what the lesson was about. Students can stamp with a range from star for "mastered it" to X for "no clue." Teachers can see the student names with the responses and message them accordingly. 

Chat is a total game changer for formative assessment. Students can become contributors. They can send text responses to the teacher, as well as images and links to resources. Teachers can forget about PPT. Let the students show you want the know and can do with the Remind app



5. Poll Everywhere Word Clouds

The strengths of Poll Everywhere are that it receives responses in a variety of ways and allows users to share and present results in several ways, as well. 

My students submit their five vocabulary words that they are least comfortable with, and I present the results in the word cloud format. Starting with the largest words means we work from the most troublesome words first to ensure that our time is spent well. 


6. Google Forms for Reading Guides

When students are taught to ask questions that can guide their learning process, they can create their own meaning, which means they can solve their own problems. 

Google Forms can be used to receive thought process questions based on a prompt that's related to a reading. This makes a great pre-reading activity, and students can access the class's questions to guide them as they read.


7. Verso

If you haven't tried this app, you have to know that it's beyond its time. Either that or everything else is behind.

Verso includes: 

  • A piece of content (text, image, or link to anything, etc.), 
  • Prompt (or provocation), 
  • Place to respond, and 
  • An opportunity to comment on other responses.
The magic of this app is in the anonymity of the responses and comments. Although teachers can see all, students are left to focus on the ideas, which is when we see voices open up – voices that may otherwise feel muffled by their own preconceptions about how their audience may react. 


8. Kahoot!

Kahoot! is just fun. There's no app to download, and users can join on the spot with a code. It's playful to use and quick when it comes to adding images for questions. Play around. You'll get the hang of it!



9. Socrative for Quick Questions and Exit Tickets

This is probably the most complete assessment tool on the list. If you're looking to get started with something that provides a lot of features without being too intimidating to learn, start here!

Socrative allows teachers to ... 
  • Ask a quick question and receive live results, 
  • Make an assessment with a variety of items, 
  • Promote group competition with Space Race, 
  • Group students for review, 
  • Use free response results for discussion, 
  • Protect student identities, and more.

10. Flipgrid 

This tool is about individual video responses and discussion. It's been used in higher education with much success. I like it because I'm a big proponent for students making video responses. 

Short video responses can do a lot for awareness of how we present our ideas. After a few videos for an academic audience, students will increase their communication skills significantly. You'll see it in their participation, writing, and reading comprehension.   

Sure, it takes some guts to make a video of yourself talking and share it with anyone. But I'm convinced that this skill is marketable and that video responses will replace many oral presentations, especially when educators discover the interaction a tool like Flipgrid offers.
  

Bonus:

Zaption is cool, but sit tight because YouTube will soon figure out how to make content safer for schools and include assessments in the video editing process. It already has polling in beta testing. You can enable it, but, like annotations, it does not work on mobile devices.


In the meantime, try Zaption. It allows you to stop the video and ask a question. The collected responses are formative at its purest – assessment for learning.