Sunday, April 30, 2017

Having Fun with Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a critical part of education as it measures learning and provides valuable information to teachers about student comprehension and mastery. When the words formative assessment and professional development are uttered in the same sentence, a collective groan can often be heard bellowing from the staff office. This month, I was charged with the task of encouraging colleagues to make assessments a little more tolerable and dare I say fun? With articles such as 56 Examples of Formative Assessments  and 55 Digital Tools and Apps for Formative Assessment Success, the options for making formative assessment more enjoyable seem more exhausting than exciting. 

Reflecting upon the needs of my colleagues and the tools most commonly being used, I wanted to keep the list of options concise and instead focus on when and why to use these tools as opposed to what to use. When exploring the vast options of outstanding (and free) tech tools, the sheer number of possibilities seems to deter people instead of encouraging the adoption of new methods of formative assessment. The most common tool heard (which is unmistakable by its memorable theme music) when walking the halls of my school is Kahoot. The students still find it appealing, the music does incite an unstoppable head nod, and teachers find they can create a Kahoot quiz with relative ease. While I do love to incorporate Kahoot as a quick opener or a fast refresher before a quiz, I find that the game has a few limitations, which is why I selected a few other tools to combat these restrictions and provide simple solutions to my colleagues. 

Quizzizz and Kahoot are incredibly similar, which has discouraged me from using Quizzizz until fairly recently. While it is possible to share a Kahoot with students for them to play on their own, it is a bit of a hassle as Kahoot requires two screens - one for the questions and one for the responses. Quizzizz alleviates this issue as it combines both screens into one, which makes single person play more accessible. Also, Quizzizz has a button to share directly with Google Classroom, which makes assigning it for homework or optional play smoother. Also, Quizzizz allows teachers to express their creativity and include the use of memes (which can be designed personally or simply generated from Quizzizz). My students are OBSESSED with memes, and this formative assessment tool makes reviewing material funny and downright sassy when students select an incorrect response. Again, this tool is similar to Kahoot in several ways, but it has a little more flexibility, which means that the game does not necessitate class-time to be played. 

2. Quizlet Live

So many teachers have been utilizing Quizlet for the flashcard feature. A considerable amount of colleagues have even allowed students to play the games that are automatically generated by Quizlet to help review key vocabulary and content. Few teachers have played Quizlet Live with students as it requires a minimum of six students to play. It is not a game that an individual can test on his or her own. What I love about this tool, however, is that it requires no additional work from a teacher aside from pressing the Quizlet Live button, the game automatically and randomly groups students, and the game requires actual conversations and collaboration to successfully win. Quizlet Live is a fast-moving experience and definitely gets the crowd burning for learning. 

3. Socrative

Socrative seemed to be popular among early adopters of technology in my school. Since the use of Google Suites has increased, the need for a quizzing tool like Socrative has decreased, but one feature provided by this webtool offers a unique benefit to teachers, especially during an observation. Socrative allows teachers to generate an automatic exit ticket or automatic question (free response, multiple choice, or true/false), which makes gather both qualitative and/or quantitative feedback immediate and personal. Socrative a great tool for this reason and seems impressive in spite of its easy implementation.  

While I love these four tools, I am always eager to learn about fresh and captivating webtools that increase student comprehension, engagement, and also provide meaningful feedback to improve instruction and learning in my classroom. Recently, another teacher shared Recap, which allows students to summarize what they learned at the end of a period or unit, which has many great features including emailing videos to parents and creating a highlight reel for the class. This tool also asks students to rate their own knowledge. New formative assessment tools like this one are being created and shared all the time. Other favorite formative tools include: Google Forms, Padlet, TodaysMeet and GoFormative. While it is often difficult to stay informed of the most popular and practical tools for formative assessment, having some knowledge of a few critical tools can certainly make learning and gathering valuable knowledge of our students more fun! 
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