Let’s Get Ready to Rumble (or, 10 ways to Formatively Assess Your Students)

Photo on 2-17-15 at 2.07 PM


My apologies for waiting until Friday to send out my weekly shares. I started two Coursera courses and have been engrossed in business classes that I am finding have applications toward teaching and learning which I will share.

“If you want your message to be memorable, think SUCCESs: Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Unexpected Stories” ~@j1berger

In any event, this week is all about formative assessment – that checking in you can do throughout a lesson or unit that can inform how you proceed. I saw this wonderful Livebinder of formative assessment using technology and have opened and checked out a good number of them. There are 32 and while you may have enjoyed at one time or another all 31 wonderful flavors at Baskin & Robbins, you will probably not have the time nor the inclination to check out all of these. But keep the binder in your tool belt library for when  you are sitting around  in your house due to bad weather.

Here are the some of the ones I checked out that I think are particularly great. 

#1 FlipQuiz Just like Jeopardy but without the music or Alec Trebek, FlipQuiz has a board set up in columns with topics across the top and points in columns ranging from 100 to 500. This is a free site to sign up but with a small fee you can get some premium features like automatic scoring. I think the fair value version is good enough. There are pre-made game boards that others have created like The Road to the Revolution or Fractions, Decimals and Percents, or you can create your own.

#2 Quizizz This is a fun one complete with exciting sound effects, music, and fun pictures. Also free, Quizizz has a library of quizzes that other teachers have made on a variety of subjects including music. You can choose to use one of teacher resources or you can create your own or you can do a hybrid which is create your own but include questions from other quizizzs. Students can join a quizizz live OR you can make it homework and students can do it on their own time. What I like about it is the lovely line plot the teacher gets at the end showing which questions students got correct/incorrect which can inform you which type of problem you need to remediate in your class. 

#3 GoFormative This one is by far the most versatile but takes time on your part. This is the one I think my friend C Dub is going to like due to all the Star Wars references in the tutorial videos and tutorial document. You can add all types of questions, you can upload content including images, videos, PDFs, and documents, you can add questions on top of these items, you can have your students show their work by drawing their responses, upload images for their responses, or type their answers AND you can view it all live as it is happening while offering feedback at the same time. Phew, that is a lot you can do. But there is more— you can create classes and assign to specific classes OR you can open the assessment to everyone and they join with a join code. This is entirely FREE and worth every minute it takes to create an assessment. 

#4 Class Flow Class Flow is another extremely versatile assessment and differentiation tool. Here is how it works. You create an account via Google single sign on, Facebook, or email/password, you can upload content like video, images, documents from your Google Drive, Smart Notebook, Office 360, or dropbox, the web- pretty much anywhere;  you can use lessons from the Class Flow community or create your own, give your class a code and get started. One of the really great things is the ability to make smaller groups and send questions directly to these smaller groups thereby allowing for differentiation. All responses come back to you in real time so you can see how everyone is doing. You can view your classes understanding by lesson, grade class, student in color-coded blocks so you can get a quick visual on how everyone did. This works on all devices.

#5 Bingo Baker Who does not enjoy a lively game of BINGO after a few rounds of Heads Up 7-Up? This is an old-fashioned game that you can create online, add images, it will scramble the board for you and generate the call card. You can then print them out or play online. 

#6 That Quiz This one is tried and true for Math, Science, Geography check-ins. Nothing fancy here but your students can set the timer, the level of difficulty, the number of questions, and see their progress. This is for all grade levels and is a no-brainer when you want to offer some practice for your students.

#7 Answer Garden creates a lovely garden of words that grow in size depending on how frequently they are used in responses submitted by your students (like a word cloud). You can create an answer garden on the fly, send the code to your students and have them respond. I have used this for one-word responses, you can use them for short answer or numerical responses. You will not see who answered what. This is more for brainstorming and quick feedback.

#8 Kahoot Similar to Quizizz, Kahoot offers the ability to gamify your classroom and get feedback in real time. Best played in class, Kahoot offers the option to use or modify community Kahoots (and there are THOUSANDS on EVERY SUBJECT from Art to Technology and everything in between) or create your own from scratch. There are featured Kahoots, Favorite Kahooters or you can search by subject, school level, or type of Kahoot (discussion, survey, quiz). Teachers can view the analytics and get real time feedback on what their students know/think/feel. And Kahoots don’t only have to be for what they have already learned, but could also be a way to introduce a topic as well. Kahoot is fun, exciting, and your kids will love it!

And now for something completely different and unexpected. 

My blood pressure is 90/40.

Ok, so I thought adding that unexpected tidbit might make this particular Weekly Wow more memorable. Did it? Because adding something unexpected makes your message more memorable. This is something I am learning in Contagious: How Things Catch On with Jonah Berger from Coursera. Not only does he have great curly hair, his lessons are Simple, informative, interesting- not to mention Credible, Concrete, and include Stories.

But really folks, Global School Play Day is coming up on February 3rd and I thought you would want to know about it. What it is is a whole entire day dedicated to PLAY- unscripted, unplugged, unstructured PLAYTIME. Is this something you think you could do? Could you devote at least half a day to this to highlight the importance of play for your students?

I hope you enjoy the snoweekend.

The Game of School

2324234097_6e8e0ef794_tI am four weeks into my Gamification coursera course by Kevin Werbach and decided I am ready to “put pen to paper” so-to-speak and get my thoughts down.

Gamification is not turning everything into a game; rather, it is finding what makes games interesting, fun, motivating, and engaging and taking those elements, designs and techniques and applying them in a non-game context like a business or a classroom environment. There is a whole lot more to this definition but this is the gist of it.

One of the activities that Kevin posed during the first week of the course was to make a list of the things in our life that involve games or play and see what distinguishes them. To preface, there are differences between Games and Play:

Games are:

  • closed, formal system, resolves itself in winners and losers (unequal outcomes)
  • series of meaningful choices (think checker moves); something happens based on what you do
  • problem-solving activity approached w/a playful attitude

Whereas Play= Freedom, doing whatever you want within limits

  • spontaneous,
  • for own sake
  • voluntary
  • exuberant energy,
  • free movement w/in structured environ (think, “Magic Circle” by Huizinga),
  • helps child become better

School and Testing immediately came to mind as games that students and teachers are involved in.

  • Schools are closed, formal systems that resolves itself in the forms of “winners”- the students that perform well and receive good grades, follow the rules; and “losers”- those that don’t
  • Students make meaningful choices where something happens based on what they do (or don’t do). So, the students pay attention in class, study for the test, perform well on the test OR students don’t pay attention in class, don’t study and don’t perform well (or variations of the above). Students choose to follow the rules and stay out of trouble, or they don’t
  • Students are involved in the daily problem-solving activity of doing school

Testing fits in with the definition as well. Testing is a closed, formal system that resolves itself in the form of winners (the students who perform, the teachers whose students perform and the schools whose teachers had students who perform well); and losers (the students, teachers and schools whose students do not perform well).

Here is where the definition divides: The schools make the “meaningful” choices to align the curriculum. Now the teachers will teach the students the material that they need to know in order to perform well on the test. The schools that perform well can receive the funding and the teachers will be evaluated positively because their evaluations are tied to these test scores. The students, unfortunately have no say in the matter and the teachers, though they may not agree with the mandates, are left to make the “choice”; if you can really call it that.

Unfortunately, what is often missing from the Game of School, is the Fun. The joy of learning for learning’s sake. The joy of reading for reading’s sake. The free movement within a structured environment. “Whoever Must Play, cannot play” (Mary Poppins); once someone is forced to do something, it is no longer fun. In fact, it can even de-motivate students (and teachers) from doing what they originally enjoyed.

More to come on schools and motivation in the next post.

Image credit: “Lost”