Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Formative Assessment

As a teacher, I'm always looking for ways to spice up and speed up the grading process. Here are a few of the free services that I like to use for assessing my students.

In any configuration of devices:

Camera
The camera app can quietly be one of the most powerful tools in your classroom. Students can give you a 30 second video on what they learned in the lesson. Once made, students could share that video on their Kidblog or share it with you on Google Drive.

Google Forms
The new Google Forms is easier to use and more engaging by allowing for the creator to import pictures and videos. However, one simple formative assessment is to create a generic exit ticket. Create three questions labeled, "Question 1", "Question 2", and "Question 3." With each question allow a simple text answer. With this template you can write your three big questions on the board and have students answer the questions and submit them through Google Forms.

Pro Tip: Create a QR code and tape it to each student's table or desk so they can scan it and get right to the Google Form or create a link to the homescreen on each student's iPad so they can access the form.

In classrooms that have 1 to 1 devices:

Socrative
Socrative is a nice bare-bones assessment tool. Students can access Socrative from an app or from the website. Socrative has a simple interface that allows teachers to make Quizzes, Quick Questions, a Space Race, and Exit Tickets.

The reason Socrative gets the #1 spot for me is the ability to ask open ended questions. All of these online tools allow students to answer true/false and multiple choice, but if I really want to get to see what my students are thinking, I'll ask an open ended question.

Space Race is another engaging feature in Socrative that puts students into teams, and their rocket ships race against the other teams throughout the quiz.

Don't forget that Socrative quizzes are also easy to share so if one of your team members creates a quiz or exit ticket, they can share it with the other teachers to make a common assessment.

Kahoot
Kahoot is possibly the most engaging student assessment tool I have seen. Students love answering the multiple choice questions since teachers can embed pictures and Youtube videos.

A new feature is that students can even play asynchronously through Ghost Mode so you can have a student who was not present for the lesson take the Kahoot at another time.

Teachers do like the database of pre-built Kahoots, but I have always put more stock in my own assessments since I was the one who did the teaching. Sometimes the pre-build assessments do not fit with what or how my lesson was taught.

Kahoot quizzes can be shared with other Kahoot users as well.

Nearpod
Nearpod is as close to magic as an iPad can get. Nearpod allows you to use student's iPads as a projector. You can create a presentation and share it onto every screen in the room. I use Nearpod a lot to show my Google Slides presentations (Ask me sometime to show you how to import a Google Slides presentation into Nearpod.)

Within a presentation you can embed quizzes, short answer questions, videos, and websites. Nearpod saves the answers and even allows you to share a student's answer with the whole class.

Nearpod also has a library of free and paid presentations that you can use with your class.

In classrooms with a single iPad or class set:

Plickers is a great way to give a quiz or survey to you class with only one iPad. Through the Plickers site, you can register your class so that each student is assigned a certain number. Then students use their numbered cards to answer multiple choice or true/false questions. The Plickers answer cards can be printed onto cardstock so they will hold up better. Teachers have had mixed results with laminating the cards due to the glare from lights.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Technology Integration at Talahi: Now and Looking Ahead

Photo from @hollyclarkedu

I recently attended a great session at the iOS Summit Minnesota at Hopkins High School. At one session Holly Clark spoke about how she view technology integration through three lenses: making thinking visible, student voice, and sharing work. Her idea struck a chord with me, and I started reflecting on how these three concepts look here at Talahi. I found that we are already doing some fantastic things in each area, and of course there is also room to grow. Here are some of the current practices that fall into the three categories, as well as, some possible next steps for our school.

Making Thinking Visible
There are many low-tech ways to make student thinking visible including asking for drawings, diagrams, and pictures as a way to solve problems. Other teachers do a great job of using dry erase boards while conducting formative assessments for students. However, if we step up into the SAMR model levels of Modification and Redefinition, we can look even deeper into our students' understanding.

One great tool that we have been using is Educreations. Educreations allows us to record what students write and say on an interactive whiteboard. The next step with this is sharing it either on a blog or over Airdrop with the teacher. Teachers can show exemplar videos to the class and diagnose where other students may be struggling. Talahi's next step will be to see if Book Creator and Explain Everything can add even more depth to students' explanations.

Student Voice
Every student needs to feel like they are heard and their opinion matters. Student voice can be the difference between an active, engaged student and an aloof or, even worse, disruptive student. Teachers use great no-tech ways to give students a voice through classroom jobs, student-led announcements, Morning Meeting rituals, and so much more. Through technology, our Talahi teachers are amplifying student voice in many ways. Our kindergarten and grade 1 teachers have used Skype in the Classroom to connect with authors and play games with other classes. 4th grade students have created anti-bullying presentations on Adobe Voice.

Our next steps may include, creating a student technology team, developing more student projects, teaming with experts within and beyond the community, letting students explore problems in our makerspace, and so much more. Talahi has amazing students, and we need to help the world hear their voice. 

Sharing Work
Currently our school Facebook "Talahi Community School" and Twitter account @talahi_twolves give the broader community a look into our school. These social media outlets allow us to show some of the amazing things our students and staff are doing. We've also had a push to keep the local media informed about what is going on at Talahi. Our Hour of Code event was featured in the St. Cloud Times and on WJON. Look for upcoming stories from both media outlets on the tree planting event at Talahi.

Our next step in sharing work will be part of a push to use Kidblog in the 2nd - 5th grade classrooms. Kidblog is a great platform for students to publish their writing, pictures, projects, and videos. There are so many ways that blogging will give students a much larger audience. These blogs will become a "digital portfolio" that will follow them from grade to grade. How powerful will it be for a 5th grader to look back at her work as a 2nd or 3rd grader to see how much she has learned. Kindergarten and 1st grade will test out Easyblogger Jr. to see if it is a productive way of sharing student work with other students, teachers, and parents. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Skype in the Classroom

Our Kindergarten and 1st grade classes have been connecting to others through Skype in the Classroom. Skype in the Classroom has hundreds of lessons and thousands of people to connect with. Some of our classes have met authors like Salina Yoon, Paul Czajak, and J.C. Phillips. The authors talked about what it takes to write a book. Many even read books to the class. Paul Czajak even read a book that hasn't been released yet to Ms. Schwanke's class.

We have also met other classes through Skype. Ms. Nelson's class just completed a Mystery Number game with another class in Connecticut. Students build number sense by trying to guess the other class's secret number. Students asked questions like "Is it odd?", "Does it have a 7 in the ones place?", and "Is it greater than 50?". More than anything Skype allows our students to connect to people that we would not have had the possibility to meet.

Here is Ms. Nelson's class playing the Mystery Number game.

Here are some Thank You's made in Chatterpix that Ms. Schwanke's class sent to Paul Czajak.
video

Friday, February 13, 2015

Talahi's Mobile Makerspace

video

This week marked the first week of the Talahi Mobile Makerspace. The Makerspace spent the week in Mr. Menth's classroom. Early in the week, students were introduced to the materials. I even got to do a minilesson on electrical circuits using the Squishy Circuits and MakeyMakey material.

Later, Mr. Menth used the Makerspace materials to make Fraction Monsters with his class. Here are some awesome examples.