Sunday, January 27, 2013

Formative Assessment with Technology

In my district, we are investing time and resources into creating quality PLCs at all levels. Time is being spent unpacking standards, assessing students, and analyzing data. Student data comes in many forms and is collected in a variety of ways. In my opinion, the most powerful data comes from the formative assessment that is happening in our classrooms. With quality formative assessments, teachers can make timely instructional decisions for all their students. Technology can play a huge role in the formative assessment process.

In preparing for a district webinar, I have been looking at and soliciting feedback from my peers about a variety of technology resources that support formative assessment. While probably not a complete list, these resources are an asset to quality formative assessment in your classroom.

Google Forms
Exit slips have always been a great formative assessment tool. Utilizing a Google form instead of paper allows you to more easily look at the data, saving you time and providing a better way to look at data trends.  A Google form can be embedded on a website or it can simply be a link. Students can access this exit slip in class or it could be something they access at home once an assignment is completed. This exit slip data is now all in one easy to read spreadsheet that you can analyze quickly. I recommend creating a generic exit slip form that you can use over and over. Once you are done with this formative data, it can be erased and the form can be used again. See the video below to setup a Google form.

Answer Garden - 
Answer Garden is an easy to use feedback board that requires no user account and minimal setup. This makes it great for formative assessment. A teacher just needs to go to Answer Garden, click on "create an answer garden", and enter a question or statement. Once a few other options are selected, the user clicks on create. Now your Answer Garden is ready to use. Students will need the URL so it will need to be posted for them. Students can then respond in a maximum of 20 characters. The short character limit does not allow students to give complete answers but this resource could be used for students to give their feelings about a subject.

Socrative -
Socrative is a great tool for formative assessment. It can be used on the fly or assessments can be created before a lesson. This flexibility allows teachers to use Socrative in a variety of ways. Another advantage of using Socrative is the accompanying student and teacher app. These apps allow the teacher to control everything from their phone or it allows the students to use their mobile devices (IOS and Android) to answer. No smartphone, no problem. Socrative also works with your computer using any browser. Learn how to use Socrative in your classroom by taking a tour through Socrative with the video below.

Infuselearning - 
Infuselearning is a tool that is very similar to Socrative. With Infuselearning, teachers can assess students on the fly or create assessments ahead of time. Students are able to respond to a variety of questions, including the exclusive draw response where students can answer the question with a picture. Although it does not have its own app, students can use a computer, tablet, or smart phone to respond to questions. The only exception to this will be students trying to use Internet Explorer. Learn how to use Infuselearning for formative assessment by watching the video below.

SharePoint Survey
For districts that use Microsoft SharePoint, the survey tool could be used as a formative assessment tool. Teachers using SharePoint can create a survey with formative assessment questions. Students would log into the teacher's websites and respond to the survey questions. Once completed, the results can be downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet for easy analysis. With this data, the teacher can make informed decisions about instruction.

All of these resources are great tools for formative assessment. Each has its own strengths, weaknesses, and uses. Check them out and use them in your classroom.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Socrative vs. Infuselearning

Socrative vs. Infuselearning

Formative assessment is a powerful tool for teachers. Quality and timely formative assessment helps teachers make informed instructional decisions. These instructional decisions make all the difference for students. In some classrooms, teachers are utilizing proprietary clickers for these formative assessments. If you have these devices, then clickers are a great tool for formative assessment. But if you don't have clickers and do not want to invest in these devices, there are two quality free, web-based options to choose. Socrative and Infuselearning perform all the same tasks as clickers and then some but which is the better choice?

Question Types
Socrative - Multiple Choice, True/False, Short Answer
Infuselearning - True/False, Multiple Choice, Sort and Order, Text Response, Numeric Response, Likert Scale, draw response(only available in quick assessment mode)

Socrative Question Types

Infuse Learning Question Types

As you can see, Infuselearning has more available question types. Unfortunately, draw response cannot be used when using a teacher-created quiz. The draw response is a great informal tool that is utilized in the quick assessment mode. Depending on the question or concept, a drawing is a great alternative way to show understanding.

Although Socrative has less question types, it does come with some premade assessments. These pre-made quizzes are nice but I usually want to create exactly what I want instead of using a pre-made quiz. I do not think I would use this feature very much at all.

Both programs allow you to ask questions on the fly without having to make a pre-made quiz. This gives the user greater flexibility in how they want to use the programs.

Socrative allows the teacher to run the assessment from the web or through their teacher app. Infuselearning is run exclusively through the website. Even though it lacks its own app, Infuselearning looks great on a tablet or phone.

Question Type Winner: Infuselearning

User Experience
Socrative - Internet Connected Devices, Student and Teacher App for IOS and Andriod
InfuseLearning - Internet Connected Devices

Students only need a room number for Socrative

Students using Socrative can connect from the student website or they can connect through the student app. Upon entering the student login interface, students needs to enter the room number. In Socrative, the room number will be the same for all quizzes. Once signed in, students will then be in a waiting screen until the assessment is ready to begin. Students using Socrative can also use any web browser.

A room number and name is needed in each enrollment setup

For Infuselearning, students will go to the student login page and enter their room number and name. A difference with Infuselearing is that each created assessment will have a different room number. On the fly assessments will use the same room number. Using the different room numbers could create some confusion for students. Another big minus is the lack of Internet Explorer support. As much I love Google Chrome, I think not supporting Internet Explorer alienates a large chunk of potential users.

Both programs offer users a similar experience when taking an assessment. There are no noticeable differences when taking an assessment. Depending on teacher settings, students may know if they got the question correct instantly.

User Experience Winner: Socrative

Teacher Experience
When a teacher logs into Socrative, all of their options are divided into easy to use sections. I like how teachers can see how many students are in the room ready to use Socrative. From the main screen it is easy to do a single question or go in and prepare a quiz. When starting a previously created quiz, teachers can choose from student paced or teacher led mode. As students are taking a quiz, the teacher can track progress for each student. Quizzes can also be shared with other users which is a nice feature. Another great feature is that you can download reports from past quizzes. So if you forget to download the report after the assessment, you can go get it later! Editing your profile is a breeze too. Finally a small feature like "Clear Room" is an added bonus. When using the teacher app, the user experience is exactly the same. That is useful so teachers do not need to learn two separate interfaces.

Infuselearning provides an equally great user experience. After logging into Infuselearning, teachers have the options to perform many tasks. Single question items are a click away and it is also easy to create a quiz. When choosing to start a previously created quiz, the only option is student paced. There is no teacher led mode for these types of quizzes. Another difference with Infuselearning is the enrollment option. When starting a session or taking attendance, you can set enrollment to "open" or you can pick a particular class. When creating classes, teachers need to add their students into the class. This can be done manually or with a student import. When starting a session with a particular class, students will need to enter their names (as they appear in the class list) and the room number. Of course all this can be skipped with the open enrollment option. This class feature might be great for some and others will never use it. I like that there is an option. Teachers also have options to change profile preferences just like Socrative. Also like Socrative, teachers can share quizzes and download past quiz data as an Excel spreadsheet. Infuse Learning does not have an app but the web interface is easy to use on your phone.

Teacher Experience: Draw - Both interfaces are great. Each has their own little differences that make them unique and will appeal to different users.

Overall: You cannot go wrong with either Infuselearning or Socrative for formative assessment in your classroom. The differences between each contender are small. I would choose Infuselearning as my winner if it supported Internet Explorer. That is a major drawback but the draw response is awesome and cannot be duplicated in Socrative. So if Internet Explorer is not an issue for you, I would probably recommend Infuselearning. For those districts using Internet Explorer or have a large portion of their school using personal devices, I would recommend Socrative because of the free app for teachers and students and the ability to use Internet Explorer.

For those using these resources in your classroom, what do you think?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blog Posting (weekly)

  • tags: googledocs doctopus Google Docs google

  • tags: stopmotion Video animation

  • tags: images

    • "The GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages." A great replacement for Adobe - post by - svartling
    • This is the offical site for gimp photo manipulation software - post by Harold
    • GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. - post by Olivier Ziller
    • The GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. - post by Andreas
    • editing software, easy to use, free, a lot of formats, - post by CPB
    • GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. - post by jdr santos
    • GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. - post by Peter .
    • GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. - post by Alan Poon
    • This link gives the portable version of GIMP. This requires no installation on the PC and can be run from a USB key. - post by Marc Queval

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blog Posting (weekly)

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Time for Innovation is Now

Innovation is one of those topics that can be so exciting to some and so completely scary to others. Innovation excites because of its immense possibilities and scares because it clashes with current, comfortable practice. Some industries thrive on innovation, while others are not so enthusiastic. So where does education fall in the innovation spectrum? This week two items have me pondering this question.

At a staff meeting this week, we were charged to watch and discuss the following webinar: Digital Learning: A Disruptive Innovation. Michael Horn, Executive Director of Education at the Innosight Institute, presented a variety of blended learning models that are being utilized in a variety of different school settings across the country. Each of these models used a combination of standard face to face instruction and computer assisted digital learning. All of these models challenge what is currently happening in most classrooms right now and that is what scares people. In education, one of our weaknesses is the inability to look beyond tweaking our current practice. There is real fear in thinking that blended instruction could be better for all our students. After watching this webinar, I think elements of blended learning could better address the needs of struggling and excelling students. But with any innovation, there are unknown elements that require some pause. For me, this is the online instruction that was talked about during portions of the webinar. Is this computerized instruction engaging, on level, auto-adjusting to target student weaknesses and strengths, and instructionally sound? Watch the webinar and decide for yourself whether blended learning is the innovative future for our schools.

The other item that has me thinking appeared in my Zite app. The End of Tech Integrationists=The Beginning of Innovation Specialists discusses how Tech Integrationists (which is the position I currently hold) will soon be replaced by an Innovation Specialist. Currently, I help teachers discover uses for available classroom technology. As a former teacher, I bring in my classroom pedagogy experience and pair it with my technology experience to become an asset to my teachers. I wish I could say technology is fully integrated into all my classrooms but that would be a lie. I still have work to do in this area. There is also work to do in the area of quality technology usage. You can put "Plain Jane" in a ball gown but underneath the pretty facade, she is still "Plain Jane". Our classroom technology use is the same. If we are doing the same activities  but with technology to make it look pretty, there is nothing innovative happening. Sadly, I think this happens more than I would like to admit so there is plenty of work for me to do as a Tech Integrationist. So as much as I don't think we are ready to replace Tech Integrationists, I do think there are some of the qualifications from Innovation Specialists that can be applied to our work. Check out the article and decide for yourself.

When working in a technology field, innovation should be a core value that drives our work. I hope in the educational technology field, this is true. The time to be innovative and continually look for better ways to educate students is now.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Blog Posting (weekly)

  • tags: google googlemaps maps tour googleearth

  • tags: web2.0 webtools

    • This sounds like a great idea but I keep getting this message when I try to register as a teacher:Please enable both Cookies and Javascript. You can do this through your browser settings. :-( - post by A Andrian
  • tags: scrapbook poster web2.0 glogster

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  • tags: youtube quiz assessment

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