Snacks, games, songs, and assemblies—I’ve seen it all over the years when it comes to motivating students for high-stakes assessments. I’m not sure how effective any of it is, but teachers are willing to go all out when it comes to testing. Teachers know that these tests matter a great deal, so the extra effort and focus are worthwhile.
When it comes to technology, most schools don’t assign separate grades for “computing.” Most of us in the EdTech world probably wouldn’t suggest doing that anyway. Technology should be integrated rather than being treated as an add-on; it is just part of “what we do” in the classroom, and not a separate subject.
One of the advantages to being a building principal is that I get to see what takes place in classrooms all around the school. I love seeing a great strategy in one classroom, then going to the next classroom and sharing it with another teacher. I think we can all agree that there is not nearly enough of this kind of sharing and collaboration in education.
In our school, we have been studying different approaches to formative assessment in the classroom. We looked over about twenty-five different ideas for how to formatively assess, then I asked teachers to try one of the concepts in their classroom and provide me with feedback about the strategy.
Do They Get It?
A few months ago, I shared an article on checking for understanding in a 1:1 classroom. Because there are many classrooms that do not have aa assessment device for every student, I wanted to share some other ideas for how to check whole groups of students to see if they are understanding the content and confident in their learning.
As educators, we know how easy it is for students to say they understand a concept and are ready to move on. However, this is not always the case, so consider using formative assessment to determine what should happen next in your classroom.
The purpose of formative assessment is to gather feedback from your students in order to determine what your students have learned and help you decide on the upcoming instructional measures. Good formative assessment can provide immediate feedback and will impact how and what is being taught. In planning for formative assessment, ask yourself some questions such as: What is essential for my students to know or be able to do after my lesson? How might I assess that? How will the data change my teaching? We live in a digital age, and technology is a great tool for formatively assessing students in a way that makes the process more interesting for them.
From Flash Cards to Book Clubs, Google Apps Are a
Great Asset for Classrooms
There is no doubt that Google Apps is revolutionizing classrooms. This centralized platform of creation and collaboration makes group projects and teacher feedback easier. It also streamlines parent-teacher communication, making it easier to keep busy parents informed of their child's progress. Perhaps you have already integrated Google Docs and need ideas, or maybe it’s time to make use of this extraordinary tool. No matter where you are with the totally integrated paperless classroom, here are 25 hacks to start you off on your Google Apps journey.
Those of you who aren’t social studies teachers may be inclined to skip over this blog post, thinking it doesn’t pertain to you. Still others may be saying, “Why bother teaching current events at all?” After all, with the 24-hour news cycle, nothing stays “current” for long! However, research indicates that a regular dose of current events has a multitude of benefits, even in classes outside of social studies.
“Today, kids spend too much time on the scale and not enough time at the trough.” This analogy of students as farm animals isn’t a beautiful one, but it gets the point across. In the past decade, students have spent a great deal of class time taking assessments (being weighed), which reduces the time available for instruction and learning (eating at the trough). The reasons for this development vary, but the testing requirements of No Child Left Behind are a major reason behind it.
Many of us sometimes feel that our students are “over-assessed,” so it’s easy to have a negative attitude toward testing. But assessments are an essential part of teaching when they are used effectively. The descriptions below include information about what each assessment type is intended to accomplish, as well as some ideas for making it meaningful and effective in the classroom.
When it comes to working with student data, most tech-savvy educators know how powerful spreadsheets can be. A basic knowledge of formulas and functions makes it possible for a teacher to generate quality information, reports, and charts. But the typical teacher grade book doesn’t allow for much data manipulation. Student scores on particular assignments in a grade book don’t necessarily show teachers whether students have mastered the material.
While grade books are probably here to stay, there is an additional tool that can help teachers gather more information from their students’ grades, including student mastery and testing information. It’s the Conditional Formatting function in Google Sheets.
Whether it’s called a formative assessment, a check for understanding, an exit ticket, or something else, good teachers find ways to gauge their students’ level of comprehension. They know that an important benefit of assessment is that it informs their instruction.
In the traditional classroom, there are three general approaches for gaining this information from students. The first is the oral response: a choral response, an individual answer, or sharing with a partner. The second approach is written – commonly via dry erase boards (“show me” boards) or exit tickets to wrap up the end of the lesson. The third approach is physical. Students can raise their hands – showing a thumbs-up for understanding, or raising one to five fingers as a rating scale. They can also move around the room and “vote with their feet.”
Many of these approaches are the tried-and-true assessment methods of highly effective classrooms. However, today it’s possible for teachers to offer much more efficient methods for students to accomplish the same thing, while at the same time tracking student data to monitor levels of understanding as a class and as individuals. Listed here are some great apps and other tech tools for accomplishing this.