Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hassle Free Diagnostic and Formative Assessment Data

Educators are being asked to use assessment data to drive instruction. From starting your class with diagnostic assessments, to keeping on track of progress with formative assessments, teachers know how important it is to understand student competency levels as part of demystifying instruction.  As states move towards high-stakes summative assessments, technology can be leveraged to provide year round feedback to ensure more successful results on these important tests.   The following tools can help provide hassle-free diagnostic and formative assessment data.  

Diagnostic Assessments are a great way to identify student capacities prior to starting the teaching effort.  Typically these assessments are done as pre-tests, self-assessments and collaborative brainstorming sessions.  Prior to the digital classroom, diagnostic assessments didn’t always provide a granular detail of the classroom.  In some cases students appeared to have a strong understanding of a concept, but in fact were lacking in fundamentals that were required for the next lesson to continue. The following tools help teachers get valuable diagnostic data that can help them locate those that might need additional support.

Diagnostic Assessment Tools:

Kahoot is a game-based classroom response system. Create and play quizzes, discussions or even surveys (which we call Kahoots) using any device with a web browser. Students engage in the quizzes as it transforms any technology environment, including BYOD, into one that is equipped for interactive quizzing.

Answer Garden
Answer Garden is an awesome student response tool that allows you to present a question or topic to a group, gather responses and display responses in a word cloud. This tool can be used as an effective brainstorming, discussion, and icebreaking tool in and out of the classroom.

Padlet is an awesome virtual version of old school sticking post-it notes to the board with additions that make it an exciting collaboration tool for the classroom. Padlet allows teachers and students to share ideas, links, photos, files, videos etc. to an online board that can be utilized in many different forms. Padlet is a great addition to any classroom.

Formative Assessments are a big part of the modern student's academic career.  With the addition of technology, these assessments provide improved information and the ability for the teacher to react quicker.  In the past a teacher might have generated test results using a bubble sheet or graded papers manually.  Often the data received from these results was linear between the teacher and student.  Modern formative assessments when taken using classroom technology can provide the teacher with data that relates to their performance on specific measurable goals, not just an individual's performance on an exam.  In addition, tools exist today that allow for assessments to be part of video content as well as embedded into presentations.  This allows for a greater variety of assessment opportunities that are less intrusive to the instruction process.  

Formative Assessment Tools:

EDpuzzle is an online tool that allows you to take videos from an online source, edit or trim to the parts you need, and add your own voice or annotation to the video with a built-in quizzing feature. EDpuzzle is an excellent tool for flipping the classroom or creating a video lesson.

Socrative is an assessment tool that allows students to use a variety of technology devices to take formal and informal quizzes and assessments online and have the results reported back to the educator. The results are then presented in an easy to understand representation that helps teachers make correlations that they might have missed with more traditional assessment methods.

Zaption allows video content from online sources, trim that content and add text and quizzing information. In addition preexisting Zaption videos live in an online library and can be used in your classroom.

The Online Disinhibition Effect

When we interact in face-to-face settings, even though we might not know it, we are following unwritten rules of conduct.  These social rules have been established and enforced since our birth.  Although they are rarely sanctioned by an authority figure, they often involve social consequences.  As an example, when you are talking to a room full of people and you notice them starting to fall asleep, you might change your pitch, tone or even the information you are trying to convey in order to not suffer the consequences of people nodding off.  These unwritten rules are also the reason you keep your shirt on when walking through the grocery store.  Unless a person is purposefully trying to violate one of these social norms, we tend to follow them without incident.

What happens when you take away face to face social consequences when communicating with others?  You get the online disinhibition effect.

The online disinhibition effect is a loosening (or complete abandonment) of social restrictions and inhibitions that would otherwise be present in normal face-to-face interactions with others on the internet.*  Psychologist John Suler researched this effect and identified six factors to why people react the way they do when there is a perceived separation of the social norms that govern face-to-face interactions.  

The results of breaking the traditional social norms while under the effects of online disinhibition can sometimes come in the form of cyberbullying.  Although this gets lots of attention, there is a far bigger issue at stake for this upcoming generation.  Poor decisions can ultimately lead to the loss of a job, or not being able to get one in the first place.  Even decisions in high school, such as posting photos from a party, or talking about drugs or alcohol could impact a person’s  ability to get a job many years later.  As employers are starting to utilize the public nature of social media sites to check in on current and potential employees, it is more important than ever to treat all your social media interactions with careful scrutiny.  

The solution to combating the online disinhibition effect is education.  The more you know and understand about the way you communicate, the less likely you are to abandon traditional social rules in the digital space.  

Here are some links to some great places to get started with teaching how the internet works, to help with the online disinhibition effect. - Online Saftey Education - Explanation of Complex Subjects Including Tech - Family Internet Education - Safe Internet Use from the FBI
Younger Students:

-Jason Cross-

Friday, January 8, 2016

Use a Technology Roll Call to Prevent Loss


Your school has invested money in a large scale technology implementation.  Student all have a device, and in some cases they are allowed to take them home.  Although the school and teachers are excited about using the technology, the actual use of the devices is scattered and inconsistent.  At the end of the first year of the technology implimentation the technology team sets up and event to retrieve all of the technology from the students.  Many of the devices are missing.


This scenario is common in many technology programs, especially if you plan on having expensive technology go home with students.  The key issue of this scenario comes from the fact that in the early implementation of whole school technology, teachers are not using the technology in a consistent way.  In some cases, as unfortunate as it is, many of the students are not utilizing the technology at all.  This lack of use, places less emphasis on the technology.  Students that accidentally lose the device, are not in a hurry to replace it, and often fear repercussions from letting teachers or the technology team know about the loss.  By the time the school finds out about the loss of technology often several weeks (or months) have passed, making the recovery of the devices much more difficult.


Technology Roll Call.   In the early days of a technology program, I recommend strongly having a daily (at least weekly) roll call for the technology.  This means once per day, when attendance is normally taken, the teacher should have the students proclaim their attendance by holding up the device, or having it on their desk.  This ensures that each device is in the building each day.  Any students that do not have their devices present for more than two consecutive days are elevated to speak with the technology director or the school office.  This puts more emphasis on the technology and also allows the technology team to determine any loss within days of it going missing.  In addition the teacher can do a brief inspection for any broken glass, or damaged machines.  These can then be fixed promptly before the situation gets out of hand.  The result of this will be the decreased loss of equipment, and the increased emphasis on the importance of the technology to the students and school staff.