Can digital assessment create more of a positive learning experience?

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This week’s presentation by Dalton, Matt and Trevor on different assessment technologies,  left me so excited to share many of the assessment options with my fellow colleagues and students. It is times like this that I miss having my own classroom to be able to authentically try out what we learned this week. 

When we think of assessment, two terms come to mind.  The first being formative assessment.  Formative assessment can be used as evidence to make instructional changes in order to further the learning of our students and is also used to verify learning.  It is a great way to check for understanding in order to inform our instruction.  Formative assessment involves giving students direct feedback.

Summative assessment evaluates or measures a student’s overall performance or understanding of curricular outcomes.  These types of assessments typically take place at the end of a unit and marks are usually used for their final grade.  This type of assessment can include standardized assessments that our school divisions or government often require.  Below you will find a quick summary chart of both types of assessments.  

Formative assessments seemed to be more important than ever with the structures that our schools and classrooms have been utilizing during the pandemic.  The tools that we learned about this week can be easily used in the traditional classroom, during online instruction and in the blended learning classroom.  When many of our students had to learn from home, our teachers needed to quickly adjust to how they would assess their students and continue with meaningful instruction. They had already lost so much valuable learning time in the spring and couldn’t bear to lose anymore!  I hope that by sharing these tools, many teachers will begin to feel comfortable with online assessment strategies and use them to enhance the learning experiences of our students.  

This week I was fortunate enough to spend time in the classrooms and experience a couple of our teachers sharing some formative assessment digital tools with their students.  The results were not surprising….. each and every child was engaged in the learning that was happening while the teachers were able to gather the data needed to move forward in their planning.  In the first classroom, the teacher was using Kahoot as a review of the science unit that they had been working on.  Each of the students eagerly played along. As an observer and not an active participant, I noticed that a few of the students who have learning challenges sat closely by the teacher so that the teacher could guide them along and read the questions aloud. Even though the students struggled to keep up, they appeared to be enjoying the “game” that they were playing and the teacher now had the information necessary to move forward in her instruction.  

In the next classroom that I visited, it was an afternoon of assessment fun!  The classroom teacher had prepped and prepared curricular activities using, Quizizz, Classkick, Go Formative,  and Socrative. Time was spent observing the children utilizing each of these tools and viewing their interactions with each other while navigating through these for the first time.  Then we listened while the students shared their preferences and dislikes about using these formative assessments.  

The afternoon of fun started out by using Quizizz.  The kids were so excited and couldn’t get enough of this one!  They loved how gamified this tool is, so it is not surprising that this one was a class favourite.  The students were beaming with excitement and said they preferred this tool over using Kahoot.  They enjoyed how you could gain power-ups and how the game did not have to be timed. Upon further investigation, I found that there is even the option for the quiz to read the questions aloud.  This is a great option for those that struggle with reading, However, it seemed to take away from the “fun” factor as it sounded quite robotic.  I wonder if there is a way for individual students to set that option on their own devices?   On the teacher end, Quizizz integrates with Google Classroom, which is the preferred platform for our division.  Click here for a quick comparison of Kahoot! and Quizizz.   

Class Kick seemed to be harder for the children to navigate through in a short period of time. The students enjoyed using it, but felt anxious when rushed and not being able to learn how to use the options with ease. I, as well as the students, loved the option of asking for help anonymously.  They explained that they liked that the person didn’t know who they were helping and they did not have to feel embarrassed.  From a teacher standpoint, we found that some of the “helpers” gave somewhat foolish answers that were not helpful, nor appropriate. Teachable moment #1!  As a learning resource teacher, I found that Class Kick would be a great option for struggling learners with being able to leave a voice note to respond to the questions.  

Next, I observed them try out Go Formative. I found this tool great for the diverse learners in the classroom.  Those that struggle academically appreciated the different question options.  Some liked the multiple-choice, while others liked the short answer. I loved that there is even an option for students to share their work on the whiteboard.  The students reported that they appreciated how easy Formative is to use. Some said it reminded them of Google Docs. When a teacher is setting up a Formative, they are even able to upload their own document and add questions on top.  Or search the bank of assessments and save time by using one that is already there. Photos and videos can also be easily uploaded.  You can set up an answer key that will save you time when grading the assignment. The option to randomize questions is great for those crowded classrooms where kids can take a peek at other’s work when they are stuck.  One can even type in feedback for the students, including emojis!  There are so many more content items that I am eager to explore in Formative. I did notice that there is a question mark feature for when I need help sorting out my assessments.  I feel like this may just be my new favourite assessment tool!  I am left wondering which of the many features that I have researched are included with the free version or is a paid version necessary?  

Lastly, the students investigated Socrative.  This tool seemed to be a little more challenging for the students to access compared to the other tools. After some confusion, we found that it was easiest for the students to just google the term Socrative and then use the student login. Once there, students just added the room name. We found that in order to use through Google Classroom, as we did with some of the others,  you needed to set up an account. Now that this lesson has been learned, it will make the next time we use it much less stressful.  I was only able to view the teacher dashboard briefly, but I liked how you can view the student’s responses in real-time and it provides detailed reports for afterwards. This a great feature for knowing immediately what you need to touch on as a class or even for creating appropriate groupings. I also noticed you can create your own assessments or share with colleagues who also use Socrative. 

Overall, I found these assessment tools that we tested out in last week’s presentation would make a great addition to any classroom.  The one piece that I found to be missing in many of these tools is the accessibility features such as speech to text or in some cases being able to have the questions read out loud to the user. I think these types of features would allow more success for our struggling learners.  Perhaps with the paid versions of each of the above, there may be many accessible features that I am unaware of.  I have definitely only seen the tip of the iceberg and I am excited to find the time to investigate further and share these great tools with my colleagues who are teaching in classrooms and online.   When we get assessment right and focus on our individual students and their needs, we are creating positive learning experiences.  Furthermore….academic success!

7 thoughts on “Can digital assessment create more of a positive learning experience?

  1. Melinda

    Great post Linnea,
    I, just like you, really enjoyed trying out different assessment tools. This past week I focused mainly on Formative. Since there are so many great tools out there, I often feel overwhelmed. I like to take small steps and keep things simple. I like Formative very much for the multi-modal questions it offers. I think it is engaging and fun. I was thinking how it could be used with struggling readers and I thought maybe you could put in small videos for them to watch and respond using the white board.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
    Melinda

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    1. Thanks for your response Melinda. I love the idea of adding videos for the struggling readers and then having them respond using the whiteboard. I just met with a teacher yesterday to discuss how we could use Formative effectively for her learners that struggle. That conversation led to a number of teachers interested so now we are going to have an impromptu pd on Friday!

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  2. Great post Linnea! I like how you shared your experiences with numerous assessment tools that were shared during the class. I think this gives you as well as other educators good insight into the first hand experiences of students! I am looking forward to using the class kick tool more with my students and trying out Socrative and Formative in the near future!

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  3. Great post Linnea! I like how you shared your experiences with numerous assessment tools that were shared during the class. I think this gives you as well as other educators good insight into the first hand experiences of students! I am looking forward to using the class kick tool more with my students and trying out Socrative and Formative in the near future!

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  4. Great points Linnea! I’m glad you got to see a variety of tools and see them in a classroom setting. I’m curious what grades your work with? It sounds like they really enjoyed all the tools and it’s so helpful for teachers to get feedback on which tools a particular group of students prefer. I am really liking the sound of Quizizz and think I will have to try it out more in my classroom! My students liked Formative, but it is definitely a little dull compared to the game features of Quiizz like you said.

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    1. Hi Shelby,
      Both classrooms that I visited were Grade 5/6 splits. It was a great age group to try them out with, as they were quite independent with the tech and many had very thoughtful comments. I always enjoy it when the students can actually share how they learn best and what they need from us to help them succeed.

      Liked by 1 person

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