Category Archives: assessment

EXTRA EXTRA read all about it… details about my LMS that is

Hi Friends, This week I wanted to give you a bit of a run down on how I intend to facilitate my Blended Course.  These are just my preliminary ideas and are possibly subject to changes, as I find I am learning more as I go. Sarah has some fabulous ideas in her blog this week in terms of establishing boundaries and participating for her older students.  Although, I think that working with young grade 3 students there is only a need for pre-teaching about “Netiquette” and digital citizenship

how to start a blog in 4 stepsI think for student/student-instructor interactions I will implement a blog. This form will be used so that students can publish their assignments and respond to readings or video’s. I think that once students get the hang of commenting on each others posts they will quite enjoy it. Although I believe that it may be difficult to create a community, this is something that the students have to do for themselves. Elizabeth had a great point when she said “we can try to foster a welcoming, open environment in which students feel a sense of community, but we can’t ensure this in all of our classes”. Image Source 

Choosing this form of student interaction is beneficial because grade 3 students are smart and full of great ideas and they will be able to share their thoughts with their peers online. Perhaps there is a way to moderate as the facilitator so that student blogs and comments can be reviewed before being posted. I also like the idea of commenting on students post, they will see that the teacher has read and thought critically about their post.

Cute small kid girl thinking holding the head. Isolated closeup potrait on whiteWhen facilitating an Blended Classroom I will make sure interactions between students and teacher are genuine.  I believe that awarding marks for participation is a starting point for students.  By encouraging participation with marks, students will begin to explore using blogs and commenting on their peers work and do so in a appropriate manner. This is the first step in meaningful interactions. Students will gain confidence by having fellow students reading and responding to their blogs. I think that both peer assessment and self assessment have value in a blended classroom. Elizabeth mentions the importance of teaching students to use pingbacks in their blogs as it “further encourages them to read other people’s blogs at their leisure and quote them in their own. It is important for students to read other people’s work, and to know that their work will also be read. This will help them see the value and importance of blogging, and the importance of reading something over before submitting it.” Image Source

I thought that I would check out the hyperlinks that were found in the document  Mastering Online Discussion Board Facilitation for some assessment ideas.  I was very disappointed to find out that all the hyperlinks that I tried were broken.  I think that it is very important when setting up a Blended Classroom for students 3-500x254to make sure that all links are working.  By not checking for dead links an educator can run into a lot of wasted time in terms of having students refer to a link provided.

Well this is my starting point, oh yeah and rubrics.  Have you ever used a blog platform in your classroom, which one?


Improving my flipped classroom through interactive videos

After reading Kara’s blog this past week I was inspired to look at my own flipped classroom and reflect on things I feel I am doing well and things that I could improve on. In her post Kara discussed 5 things that she wants to do to start running her own flip class and I am doing 3/5 things that she said she would like to do. I have students watch the video lessons I have created, I use bell work to review or assess student understanding and I allow for work time during class. Kara mentioned starting class with a quick Plickers activity so that she can easily assess how her students are feeling about the material, and allowing class time for “board work” in which students work through extension activities together. As mentioned in my comment on her blog, I feel as though I would use the board work from time to time just for the sake of time, but I would really like to integrate something like Plickers into the classroom so I can have ongoing assessment and reflection.

Kara got me thinking of some of the different hurdles that we come across as flipped classroom teachers. As I was looking into ways to better integrate technology and tools into the classroom for assessment purposes I came across an awesome review of a site called eduCanon – an interactive video creating site. After reading the review I decided that it was something that could add a lot to my flipped classroom. I decided to look into it some more and found out that the site has switched names and is now called PlayPosit. Basically what you can do is add questions to your videos so that students have to answer the questions as they watch the video, similar to EdPuzzle. It also has a feature in which students cannot fast forward the content to skip material. I think that this could be a really nice feature but it may also turn students off who might grasp the concept at an early stage or who may want to review the material at a later date. For an idea of how it works, check out this quick – but very informative – video.

Of course I had to sign up after watching the video. It was extremely easy to sign up and I got started right away to add a question to a video I have already created. The process was as simple as locating the YouTube video I had already created and adding the link to the dashboard on my PlayPosit account. From there I was able to locate the place in the video where I want a question placed. I add the question as well as the answers for students to select. It is my understanding that the free version only allows you to use multiple choice format for questions. One concern I had was how I would enter equations or formulas in the questions, but they have an option to insert equations and it took me a few tries to figure out how to use it but I was able to figure it out and add my question.

Screenshot of my question I added to the video

Screenshot of my question I added to the video

I see a lot of value in adding questions to the video that students watch for a few reasons. First off, I don’t assign a mark or a grade for watching the videos I assign. I give students a handout to work through as they are watching the video so it’s pretty easy for me to see who has or hasn’t watched the video based on who has the handout completed when they come to class. If students haven’t watched the video before class I don’t get too worried about it because they can use the class time to catch up on the video. I always remind them that the time in class that they are using to watch the videos is less time they have in class to work with me or classmates on the assigned work. Another reason I like the idea of integrating the questions is because I can see the results of the questions so it can help me see who may need more help. It is obviously important that the students are watching the videos too, so this keeps them a little more accountable. I plan to integrate more interactive videos but that won’t change the way students are assessed. The feedback I get from student responses in the video will be used for me to identify students who may need more help and to address student needs accordingly.

After spending some time using PlayPosit I had to compare it to EdPuzzle and I was quite surprised at the similarities. The platforms seem to be user friendly and both use the exact same equation editor. I think I will try to use a video from each website with my students to see how the feedback is gathered and documented and then I will decide which site I will stick with moving forward. In the screenshots below you can see just how similar the sites are.

EdPuzzles Equation Editor PlatPosit Equation Editor

I focused a lot on one aspect of my reflecting this week so I will try to quickly touch on the other areas I focused on. The first was setting up Seesaw and trying to get my students active on it. I challenged them via Edmodo to upload 7 videos before the end of the break – for the entire class, not per person. But sadly I only had one video that was shared by a student even after I tried to bribe them haha. However the video was FANTASTIC! The student did an excellent job walking through the question and explaining how she completed the problem. I am hoping it will encourage others to step out of their comfort zone and share their work too. screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-10-25-03-pm

Moving forward I would also like to try move my bell work to an app as opposed to paper as it will be easier for me to assess student understanding that way. As Kara suggested I like the idea of using something like Plickers to get a quick overview of how comfortable students are feeling about the content by asking a simple “How do you feel?” with responses such as “Don’t get it”, “Sort of Get it”, “Completely Understand”. The final thing I want to work on is my video lessons as the quality still isn’t where I want it to be, although it is getting better.

I don’t think I will ever have a completed flipped course because there will always be ways that I can improve even in small ways such as updating my bell work from using paper to using technology. It is important for me to stay up to date with new ways to improve my courses – flipped or not.

Have you tried a flipped classroom? What are some ways that you assess student understanding or address students not watching videos? If you have any tools to share I would love to hear from you!


Space Racing through assessments using Socrative

I was challenged to integrate a digital assessment tool into my classroom this week and talk about my experience in a variety of ways. Unfortunately I am without students for the rest of this week (conferences tomorrow, PD Thursday and Remembrance Day Friday) so I am going to discuss an experience I had just last week using Socrative. I have discussed Socrative in previous posts as I spent some time exploring it last year in another course. However, at the time I was off on maternity leave so I wasn’t able to integrate it into my classroom until this year.

Last week I had the perfect opportunity to use it as a method to review for an accounting midterm that was heavily based on concepts and terms involved in the class. I used Socrative to create two quizzes; one was a multiple choice quiz covering 30 terms and the other was a true/false quiz covering accounting concepts learned through the first half of the semester. I decided to use the quiz in 3 different ways.

Students engaged in the space race

Students engaged in the space race

I first used the true/false quiz as an independent assessment that was teacher paced. A teacher paced quiz is one in which I control when the next question appears. One benefit of the teacher paced method is you can display the answer and discuss it before moving on. It was a great way to see the areas where students may be misunderstanding concepts and address these misunderstandings. Being that it was a true/false quiz it displayed the percentage of students that selected true and those who selected false. It was a really good way to see immediate results and discuss concepts.

I then used the Space Race feature to divide the class into 4 teams that competed to win the race by answering the multiple choice questions discussing the terms. This feature was very interesting and has advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages:
– can select up to 20 teams; you can assign students to teams or have site create teams for you
– creates friendly competition
– students were very engaged
– students can see correct/incorrect responses

Disadvantages:
– students seemed to think it was based on the team to finish first which made them rush
– when teams were losing some students got upset and were discouraging their classmates
After noticing that many of my students were rushing through the answers and hearing some of their end results (12/30, 17/30 etc etc) I decided that I wanted students to redo the test independently as a student paced quiz.

The student paced quiz allows students to go about the questions at their own pace. You can select whether the correct answer is displayed after they submit the answer for each question so students get immediate feedback. They are able to go back and change their answers if they get them wrong, but the question will remain marked as incorrect on the teacher report so it doesn’t help the student earn a higher percent. From the teacher perspective I think this is a big plus for the tool.

Students generally thought the tool was a great way to review. Some students took it more seriously than others and it was quite obvious that that was the case for some students. This was really apparent for students who were giving fake names as opposed to their real names (ie. RIPHarambe, Harambe, Mickey Smith). Maybe these students were worried their results would be made public or that their classmates would see their responses, but that is another great feature of the tool, you can select whether names appear or not. If you want to be able to use the results with a purpose students must put their real name, otherwise there is no way you will be able to tell who answered what. After each quiz you can chose to show the results with or without names to the class. Regardless of whether you share the results with the class, reports are created for you to access at anytime.

Screenshot of report created by Socrative

Screenshot of report created by Socrative

As you can see from the results table, this is a great way to see which questions students are really struggling with. For example question 15 & 20 had very poor scores while #13 and #22 had great results. This is an easy way for me to see common mistakes within the class as a whole as well as individual students who are struggling. You can also see the buttons that allow me to see student names (which is off so names are represented as stars), as well as answers. If I turn the answers off all the data will be hidden until I turn the show answers button back on.

Overall I thought the experience with Socrative was beneficial to both myself and the students. I was using it as a tool to review information in a “fun” interactive way so I hadn’t planned on using the results for actual assessment purposes. Having used the site I can see the value in it and will be using it for more formative assessments in the future. I prefer this site to Kahoot because it seems a little more ‘professional’ or academic as compared to Kahoot. To me, Kahoot seems very game based and elementary so I didn’t find it suitable for my high school students and what I wanted this activity to be. I found it to be very easy to set up and user friendly for both the teacher and the students. For myself I don’t know that I would ever use this for a summative assessment only because students need phones or computers to complete the quizzes which opens up the doors for texting/chatting or searching for answers while the assessment is being completed. The biggest disadvantage is the access to technology. I have 22 students in my class and 10 students needed to use a school laptop to participate in class. Depending on the socio-economic status and age of your students this may be the same case for your classes.

I highly recommend giving Socrative a try especially if you teach middle years or high school. If you want to check out my youtube channel I have a few tutorials that demonstrate how to set up a quiz, view reports and run the quizzes that you might find useful. There are a lot of tools out there that provide different forms of assessment, especially formative assessment. Whatever tool you choose remember to choose it wisely after giving the assessment purpose some thought.  Technology can change the way we assess making it more efficient and help us improve the learning environment.

What is your “go to” tool for online assessment? When and how do you use it? Do you think that we will eventually move away from pen & paper type assessments to more online forms of assessment?

 


The new tools of our trade?

I want to start by saying hats off to my peers, Amy, Krista, Luke, Elizabeth and Rochelle who presented on the topic of educational software and media. I have to admit that although I am familiar with a lot of different great software and media tools I don’t often integrate them into my classes (insert red embarrassed face here). I can’t say for sure why I haven’t integrated the tools in my classes yet, but a big part of it is the fact that I was out the classroom on mat leave all of last year, so having just been back to work for a month and a half I still feel as thought I’m adjusting to the new routine. When I’m talking about not using the tools, I guess I’m talking about tools like Kahoot, Socrative, Quizlet or Explain Everything. I do use other media in the classroom so I will talk about the tools I do use as well as touch on some of the tools I have spent some time exploring in hopes to integrate the into my classes in the future.

One of the tools I use is Edmodo. I enjoy using Edmodo for a variety of reasons. The first is because the interface is similar to Facebook and students so it’s easy to navigate and students feel the same way. One of the biggest benefits is the increased level of communication between students, parents and the teacher. I’ve made a screen cast of my Edmodo page that takes you through some of the features as well as discusses some of the pros and cons of using Edmodo.

I have some EAL students in my class and they spend time working with a language app called Duolingo. I was introduced to this last year when I used it to try and learn some Italian. It has a gaming feel to it and makes learning fun, but the quality of the learning isn’t the best. I used it a lot, but I wasn’t able to actually remember or recall much of the language when I wasn’t using the app or website. To get a feel for how the program works check out my screencast from when I did my post-assessment. During the video you will hear the chime when I respond correctly and a green banner appears. Duolingo is very stimulus-response based lending itself nicely to the behaviourism theory. When I played it was really motivating and the game like features kept making you come back. You can earn badges, points and your progress is tracked making it rewarding to play and learn. The downside to the app is that although there is a lot of repetition it doesn’t allow for deeper connections and learning. To truly learn a language I believe you must converse with people using the language and Duolingo doesn’t provide these types of interactions. Users may chat with others on a forum, but there is no opportunity to speak with others and practice.

Duolingo is a great tool for EAL learners to get additional practice as it is engaging and fun. In order for students to practice outside of the classroom, students need to have access to the website or app. This makes it difficult for students who don’t have access to technology to practice when they are not at school. As a mentioned above, the app itself is not enough for students to master a language, but it is helpful. Language Surfer provides a great list of ways to get the most out of Duolingo and most of them go beyond just playing “the game”. Students who use this need to go beyond the app by writing down new word they learn on paper, writing sentences that they struggle with, reading the hints given by the program and working with others to practice speaking the language they are learning.

Other tools that I have explored for past classes with Alec are Socrative and Explain Everything. Socrative allows you to create quizzes and use exit slips to assess student understanding. I don’t think I would use this tool for summative assessment purposes but I see it as a great tool to get some feedback of learning throughout the unit. Students need to have access to computers, tablets or phones in order to participate so it is difficult to use in a classroom like mine where some students don’t have a phone. I feel like getting computers for everyone would be a lot of hassle to complete a short exit slip or a quiz that will give me some feedback. It is much easier to do a paper exit slip and have students complete it…however not as fun. Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard app and I have thought about using it in my math classes. I see students using it to walk me through a question while they explain the steps they are using to solve the problem. I see it as an excellent tool to evaluate deeper understanding however it takes time for students to learn how to use the tool so that is something that would need to be considered before it is used in the classroom. You can check out my youtube channel to find the video tutorials I have created for both Socrative and Explain Everything. The videos will give you a better idea of how they work if you are wanting to learn more about them. A few classmates have included great reviews of Plickers and Seesaw; both tools seem beneficial in their own ways. Be sure to check out Plickers as reviewed by Liz and Seesaw as reviewed by Erin (great job guys!).

As I stated earlier, I tend to stay away from many of these question-response type tools because I don’t see a whole lot of value in them for the amount of time it takes to implement them. I do see it as a fun way to review and see the value in using these tools to differentiate the teaching methods. How often do you use these tools? Can you sell me on the value of these tools? I’m not saying I will never use them, but I don’t see myself using them on a regular basis…but maybe I should? Are these the new tools of our educational trade?


Have we sold our soul?

This week was by far the toughest debate topic for me to wrap my head around. Maybe it’s because my head was in the sand with regards to this topic prior to the debate. Before the debate I hadn’t really given that much thought to the role that corporations play in our schools. Obviously I know they are involved as we use their textbooks and resources on a daily basis. But I hadn’t really thought about what they are gaining from having their materials in our schools. I know how businesses work and I know that they are getting richer anytime we buy resources from them but I have never given it much thought beyond this.

Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Compfight cc

I found myself reading a lot of blogs this week because I wasn’t quite sure which side I agreed with. Just like Erin, I feel that if schools want to have resources and funding that sometimes we might have to go beyond what the government is giving us. Let’s be honest, in recent years education hasn’t exactly received any huge payouts by the government so it would be helpful if we could look to the private sectors to help out. However, that being said we need to be mindful of the reasons why corporations want to be involved because most of the time it is to benefit themselves in some way. Kelsie did a great job of discussing this in her last post. We need to consider the reasons corporations want to be involved with education and ask ourselves the why questions.

In our chat on Tuesday we brought up the idea of companies funding schools or providing bursary’s where students receiving funding would have to agree to give back to the company by working for them for an agreed term. My friend was given a scholarship from Shoppers Drug Mart in while she was in pharmacy at the U of S and part of her getting the scholarship meant she had to agree to work with Shoppers at a location in a smaller city in Saskatchewan for two years after completing school. I think this is a fair way for them to help out. She was given help in paying for her school and in return she provided them with work for two years. After the two years were up she was able to leave and work wherever she wanted. Not a bad deal, but I know that’s not always the way things work.

Photo Credit: torbakhopper via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: torbakhopper via Compfight cc

One thing that really struck me while reading and thinking back to the debate and chat was the idea that education is thought of as a business. Typically most businesses make money, in terms of education, that just isn’t the case. Schools don’t make money. We spend money. We spend money on resources and teachers to provide an education to students who we hope will become contributing members of society. The money is spent on investing in the future through these students. It seems as though the government is always looking at ways to cut spending and save money in education. I agree that there are probably areas that we can save money like transportation, printing and supervision but in my mind, if we cut back in those areas in order to save, that money should be put towards other areas. I feel like if we do cut back that they will just continue us to cutback in all areas rather than taking the money and using it for educational assistants or more support staff.

In terms Pearson and everything I learned about that corporation this week, I don’t know what to think. First off, I didn’t realize they were a British company (I had assumed Canadian). I also didn’t realize that they create so many of the standardized tests for the United States. I thought that we had a pretty large number of standardized tests here in Canada but I was amazed to hear how many some states have. My problem with these tests is that they are all the same. There is no adaptations for anyone and I believe them to be biased in many ways. At my school we find that they can be culturally biased so students who have come from other countries struggle to answer the questions properly. We have to question what the goals of the standardized tests are. Are they really helping students? Is the data helping teachers see student weaknesses? Are students taking the tests seriously (insert student groans and eye rolls here)? We mentioned in class that teachers have a good idea of where their students stand academically without the tests, so does it make sense to have them? I know the standardized part of it plays a big role in government decisions and statistics because all students are scored using the same evaluation and test. I don’t teach any classes that involve standardized tests so I can’t comment much more on them but John Oliver always does a great job of shedding light on a controversial topic in a humorous way and he does just that in this video about standardized tests.

The last thing I wanted to comment on is the idea of evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores. There are so many ways this could go wrong. You could have the teacher that teaches ONLY what is on the test and leaves out anything else in the curriculum missing valuable material. You could have a dishonest teacher hint towards answers or give answers to students to increase scores. What about when students find out that teachers are being paid and evaluated based on the test scores? If they don’t like you, will they purposely answer incorrectly? These are all things that we have to take into consideration and I don’t believe that we should pay teachers based on these scores. There are far too many things that could go wrong if this happens. Teachers should be evaluated by superintendents or school administration who are able to observe the teacher teach on a number of occasions.

I think I just rambled on and on and I’m not sure I made much sense, but I’m not sure I fully understand all the details in order to provide a strong response. It’s a different look at education involving politics and business which I’m not well versed in. I hope I was at least able to give you something to think about.


Blogging and Numbers. Does it add up?

Blogging. How can we use it in the classroom? How can we get students involved? Is it something that  should be graded? If so, how? How can blogs be integrated into a class that doesn’t involve a lot of writing? And finally how do my students find time to complete their blog posts? These were all questions I had when reading the articles for class this week.

Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight cc

I want to focus on the article that I took the most away from this week. Michael Drennan’s article Blogging in the Classroom: why your students should write online provides some great arguments for having students blog. I couldn’t agree more with the rewards outweighing the risks of having students blog. I especially like that plagiarism becomes pretty obsolete. It makes sense right? Why would a student risk plagiarizing when their work is public and can be seen by anyone on the web? The chances of being caught and being labeled as someone who steals the work of someone else. I also think it’s a great way to show student development and a way for students to learn from comments that their peers and others provide them. It’s a great way for them to share their work with someone other than their teacher. It also provides an opportunity for parents to follow along with their blog.

I came across 14 steps to meaningful student blogging and one of the ideas I struggle with is not grading the blogs. I understand why you wouldn’t assign a grade, but my worry is that my students wouldn’t blog if it wasn’t for marks. I guess I have a lot of questions with the whole assessment part of it. How often should students be blogging? If I don’t give them some type of grade/assessment, how do I motivate them to blog? Teaching high school and only seeing students for an hour a day creates another problem of finding the time for it to be done properly.

This leads me to my next problem. Integrating blogging into classes like Accounting and Math. I found a few ideas from different sites. I really like the idea of showcasing student work. Students can use an iPad and capture a screenshot or even take pictures of their notebook to be uploaded to their site. I would ask students to take it a step further and create a video to explain how they solved the problem. Here are five more ways that blogs can be used in a math class. I want to try have students write their own problems to post on their blog for others to try and solve. It might really make students think outside the box and it will also demonstrate their level of understanding.

Photo Credit: bjmccray via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: bjmccray via Compfight cc

If anyone has any suggestions for ways to integrate blogs into a class that doesn’t usually involve a lot of writing, I’d love to hear from you. I’d also love to know if you grade your blog entries or how you assess them.


I feel like I have to comment on my personal blogging experience and some of the connections I made with the other articles this week. Just like Dallas, I was never really too keen on sharing my thoughts in a public space online. I used to feel like no one really cared what I had to say. But the more I blog and share on Twitter, the more connections I make with people who comment, retweet or follow me. It seems the more you share and the more you try to connect with others, the greater your voice becomes. It’s pretty neat to be able to connect with people who you’ve never even met before and know that you will both benefit from the connection by learning from each other.

I can relate to a lot of what Clive Thompson had to say in Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter. As Clive states, “when you feel like you are writing to an audience of 0 and suddenly you have an audience of 10 it’s quite something.” I know exactly how that feels. When I first started using Twitter I didn’t feel like anyone was “listening” or like anyone cared. Now that I have over 110 followers I think a lot more about what I am Tweeting and the audience I am reaching out to. I know 110 followers is NOTHING in the grand scheme of things, but I have been adding at least 3 followers per week since class started and I feel like I am gaining some ground giving me a larger audience.

Screen Shot of my Twitter page

Screen Shot of my Twitter page

When we think about who our audience is it changes the way we write. If I am writing an email to a friend it will sound a lot different than an email I write to a colleague or administrator. If I am writing a blog intended for my students it will sound different than one written for my peers. For myself writing is hard. I feel the pressure every time I set out to write a post. Sometimes when I try to just write and forget about who I am writing to it helps more. Most of the time I ask myself why am I writing this? Who am I writing to? Most of the time I am assuming my audience is my classmates and hopefully some other teachers that my blog reached. Understanding our audience and having a purpose for writing will change the way we write. We need to help our students with this process in order to give them the freedom to write and blog successfully.