With each semester that passes, I get to learn more and more about what type of educator I am. Most recently, I’ve been inspired to think more about what kind of educator I want to / need to be.
I truly enjoy planning and delivering lessons. I like watching students faces as “light bulbs” go on …I like hearing them share their newfound knowledge with a classmate … I like being surprised by a question that they ask that I hadn’t ever considered. What I don’t enjoy is assessment. I try to live each day from the standpoint of “why put off until tomorrow what can be done today?” … but I don’t apply this when it comes to marking the work that my students submit. Nope. There, in that situation, I like to use the cheer:
“Give me a P! R! O! C! A! S! T! I! N! A! T! E!” (Okay… that wasn’t quite as effective as I’d hoped it would be. Better when I do it in person.) Photo Source
I remind myself on a regular basis that, without assessment, how can I be certain that learning is taking place? In her article, “Every Teacher’s Guide to Assessment”, Amanda Ronan states that
“not all assessment is high-stakes, and when done thoughtfully, the right assessment can provide extremely useful information for all stakeholders—students, teachers, parents, schools, and policy-makers”.
This is what I need to keep in mind when staring at a stack of exams or essays. The feedback that comes from the RIGHT assessment can be invaluable.
Moreover, when it comes to assessing student work, I understand the need for feedback to students to be as immediate as possible. Michael Epstein and his colleagues conducted an experiment in 2004 that thoroughly supports this notion. He shares his findings in the Psychology Report article entitled Provision of Feedback During Academic Testing: Learning is Enhanced by Immediate but not Delayed Feedback. In this experiment, researchers were able to use technology to
“permit the immediate delivery of corrective feedback on an item-by-item basis”.
(Yaaaaay, technology!) The students who received this immediate feedback performed better on the final exam than those who received feedback at the end of the test or after a delay of 24 hours.
I am currently trying immediate, item-by-item feedback with my eight-year-old daughter’s weekly spelling tests. Rather than dictate all of the words and then go through the whole list with her right after, I’m looking at her work (or – better yet – having her tell me how she spelled the word) following each word. Elementary teachers, if Epstein’s findings have been refuted or if you disagree with this approach, please let me know. I don’t want to be responsible for Willow inakyouritly speling werds in the fewtshur ;).
Back to the blog prompt… my original plan, after enjoying the fantastic presentation by Nicole Reeve, Tyson Lepage, Jennifer Huber, and Natalie Schapansky, was to try out QuickKey. QuickKey allows the user to scan students’ answer sheets with his/her phone to quickly correct their work. I have downloaded the app and will definitely give it a try later this month but, after doing that little bit of research into the timing of assessments, I’ve decided to try out something that provides immediate feedback. I thought about looking at Plickers, but Andrew did a fantastic job of reviewing that one, as did Nicole, so I wanted to try something different. Photo Source
After reading Natalie’s blog post about Google Forms, I was extremely interested in trying that out for formative assessment purposes. I love that she used it to see the general level of comprehension of the class… but I know that there would be times when she (and I) would want to see the responses matched up to the student. Given that I was only Google-fied in the past five or six weeks, following the start of EC&I 833, I am still unsure as to whether or not I can use Google Forms the way that Natalie did without setting up a Google Classroom. I’ll have to investigate that further! Photo Source
As such, I’m going to sign up for Socrative (so-CRA-tive) and try to create a little online test. Stay tuned…
(The next day…)
I created my Socrative account … it was pretty simple! I had to enter my email address, set a password, and type in my school name, as it wasn’t listed – and, as usual, “Agree to Terms” without reading the “Terms”! Once I clicked “Finish”, this is the screen that I saw.
I am going to try “Short Answer”, as my plan is to use this for my daughter’s spelling tests. I’m hoping the novelty of “online testing and immediate feedback” will spark her interest and have her begging me to sign her up for the next Spelling Bee of Canada (words dripping with sarcasm, here!).
(Ten minutes later …. )
Okay – I just realized that using Socrative for spelling tests will only work if the questions are multiple choice, with the word being misspelled three times and spelled correctly once. Not ideal, as this isn’t the format of my daughter’s tests. (NOTE: U of R psychology professor, Dr. Tom Phenix, recommends always studying for tests in an environment similar to that in which you will be writing the test. For example, if you’re being tested on your skill as an underwater welder, you’d better darn-well be doing
some underwater welding in preparation!) What I really need is to be able to audio-record my voice dictating the French words and to have Willow type in the words and
receive immediate feedback. Socrative isn’t the answer for this type of testing but,
upon further investigation, I discovered a little-known app called Super Star Speller (by Fred Sauer) that, I hope, will dictate spelling words and provide immediate corrections. Photo Source
A similar app that I read about in the process of researching for this post is My Spelling Test (called Spelling Test by FunExam.com on Android devices). The cost for this one is $0.99, so I thought I’d try the free one (half-time teacher’s salary here, folks! 🙂 Photo Source
Plan B … My IP 10 students have a unit test coming up, so this will be used as a formative assessment tool to see if they’re doing okay with the content thus far!
I will create a quiz from scratch to test my students’ ability to identify the six different types of cyberbullying. Multiple choice format will be appropriate for this situation, but it certainly isn’t my favourite method of assessment. Now here I go …
(Twenty minutes later…)
Creating the quiz was easy. I typed in the first definition (well, I actually used talk-to-text… love that feature!) then entered four Cyberbullying terms as answers – only one was correct. I could have entered more answers, but I felt that four would be sufficient. I then had the opportunity to identify which letter – A, B, C, or D – was correct.
Setting up each question did take a bit of time, but, keep in mind that I was riding shotgun on a Saskatchewan highway in a vehicle with four little girls in the backseat. In case you didn’t know … four little girls = L-O-U-D ! In spite of the chaos, the little multiple choice quiz is all set … just waiting to have students to try it out tomorrow morning. One more sleep! Just one more sleep!
(The next morning …)
Well, we did it! Thanks to the amazing Ashley, these students had all used Socrative before. I had a little bit of trouble launching the quiz, but I logged out and logged back in once my students had joined the room and it worked perfectly! I could watch as each of them responded to the questions. I set the quiz up to give them immediate feedback on each question. Here is the play-by-play!
What I saw when the students were answering …
What I saw when the students had finished… (It appears that I forgot to indicate which answer was correct for the last question!)
What I saw when I clicked “Finish”…
What I saw when I chose to “Get Reports”…
What I saw when I selected the option to export my entire class results to Excel (Whole Class Excel)…
What I saw when I selected “Question Specific PDF”…
What I saw when I selected “Individual Student(s) PDF”…
Students didn’t have to set up student accounts
Teacher account set up was quick and easy
I could watch as students responded to each question
I could download my quiz to PDF format
I logged out and, when I logged back in, I was still able to view my quiz results
I could export my results to PDFs for individual student details
I could export the full class results to Excel
I could analyze my results in a table format right in Socrative
Students couldn’t see the question once they’d submitted each answer
Isn’t really suitable for open-ended questions
Given the success of my first time using Socrative, I already have plans to use this program in my Psychology 20 course later this month. I’m trying a totally different method of teaching the senses. Rather than small groups presenting to the entire class, I’ll be having each small group move through stations in the classroom, where they’ll be learning from another small group. Each “sense group” will present four times (allows the opportunity to perfect content knowledge, delivery of material, etc.) and, with only four or five students as the “audience”, it is hoped that the audience will remain more engaged than they might in a large group format. In the Policy Brief document by UNESCO, “How Technology Can Change Assessment” , it’s stated that a very important outcome of assessment is that it can help us to
“make inferences about the quality of different specific learning experiences”.
If I use Socrative to test what each student learned about the senses following these mini-presentations, I’ll have a better idea as to whether or not the “rounds” was an effective way to teach this content.
Thank you for the great post prompt and fantastic presentation about assessment!
p.s. After finishing most of this post, I checked out +AllisonGritzfeld’s link to the assessment tool, Recap. Very interesting! It reminds me of how +AlecCouros used Flipgrid at the start of this course to hear a little bit from each of us and to allow us to hear one-another. I doubt that Recap would enable students to watch each other’s videos, though… perhaps a disaster in the making for certain subject areas where one student might totally lead the rest astray!! Still… Recap is something that I will have to try before the end of the semester.