One of the many advantages of teaching in a 1:1 school is having readily available technology to assess student understanding. While tests, quizzes and projects offer opportunities to evaluate students at the end of a unit of study, it’s equally (or perhaps even more) important to continually check in with students for understanding throughout the course of a unit. This allows students to demonstrate their strengths and weaknesses, and allows me to adjust instruction as needed. Sometimes I’ll go back and re-teach a concept that students are unclear about, while other times I realize that students need to be challenged and I will adjust accordingly. To the untrained eye, this formative assessment often looks like fun and games – and it is! But behind the competition and rivalry is the important purpose of evaluating student understanding and refining instruction to reach all students.
Today I’ll highlight a few of the fun formative assessment tools we’ve used this year:
Kahoot creates an exciting “game show” type review game in which students use their iPads as answer pads and compete to be the fastest and most accurate in the class. I started using this last year just to try it out, and quickly realized that the students really love it! It’s become a reliable stand-by activity– students are used to playing them, so I don’t need to repeat directions, but they still love doing them even after many months. Teachers can save Kahoots online after they have been created, so it’s a great tool to use once after giving notes (to gauge initial understanding) then again later in the unit as a review before a summative assessment.
It has quickly become one of my favorites because the kids find it so fun and they’re always engaged, but also because it offers me highly detailed feedback. In terms of using it to gauge student understanding, I like Kahoot for a number of reasons. First, it allows me to download the results into an easy-to-read Excel file. I can easily see a detailed breakdown for each student: which answer they chose and how long they took to answer each question. This helps me to evaluate the comprehension of one student across a variety of question types. I can also compare all students’ responses for the same question, which helps me to understand how the class is trending as a whole. If everyone (or the majority of students) gets a particular question wrong, it’s a clear indication that I need to re-visit the concept in instruction.
Here’s a screenshot of Kahoot – the left is projected on the front board for all students to see, and the right is a sample of what students see on their iPads.
I’ve been using Quizlet for the past couple of years to distribute vocabulary sets to students. Quizlet has been a great tool for encouraging individual study for vocabulary/verb sets – it allows students to play different games to practice memorizing new words in Italian/Spanish. Recently, however, Quizlet joined the world of interactive, team formative assessment games by introducing their latest feature: Quizlet Live!
We tried it out in Spanish 2 and Italian 3 this term and the student response has been very positive! It differs from Kahoot and other games in which students play individually and instead randomly groups them into teams that work collaboratively to race other teams in the class. The students work together to match vocabulary in a game that values speed and accuracy. Spanish 2 students recently used Quizlet Live to review for their quiz on food vocabulary and the results were fantastic! Students were engaged, working together and really having a great time learning and practicing vocabulary. I really like how Quizlet has transformed what can be a bland, static activity (learning/memorizing new vocabulary) and made it come alive! The game also has a great feature after the winning team has finished, in which it displays common errors among all the groups. It’s a great way to address errors as a whole class before playing another round.
Here‘s a great link from Quizlet’s website, showing how this feature is played in the classroom.
While I love integrating activities that require students to use their iPads, sometimes we all need a little technology break. In those moments, I like to try Plickers. Plickers provide students with simplified individualized “bar codes” that I’ve assigned to each student’s name. The code has four sides, each indicating A, B, C or D. A question is displayed at the front of the room and students hold up their code in one of four ways to indicate their response to a multiple choice question. I use my iPad at the front of the room to scan over their codes, and answers are automatically tallied and displayed on the board. Not only do I enjoy using Plickers as a way to give students a technology break, but they also allow me to collect student data after we play to analyze and evaluate for student understanding.
Here are the bar codes that students use to answer each question:
As new technology-focused formative assessment tools are “born” each day, we continue to try out different ways to assess student understanding in the classroom. Stay tuned for more updates about new games/activities in Room 238!
🙂 Signora B.