As the use of mobile technology in the classroom increases and teachers become more confident, it's versatility becomes more tenable. Educators that have previously used device to present content are starting to plan and assess using iPads just as readily.
Let's take a look at assessment opportunities, applications and methodologies that can be applied in different ways across a range of curriculum areas. For each example, feel free to click on the app title or logo icon to check it out on iTunes.
Simply put, Nearpod is one of the best apps we've come across. For the uninitiated, Nearpod allows educators to design and present interactive presentations that students log in to from their own devices. The teacher then takes remote control of their devices allowing them to control the pace of the session and flow of content. Interactive elements that can be incorporated include polls, drawing/annotation tasks and quizzes. Data from these activities is presented live on the teacher's device allowing for a wealth of assessment for learning (AfL) opportunities. Additionally, at the end of the presentation, one click sends a PDF of all the gathered data to the educator.
A misconception I've heard from other educators that have tried Nearpod is that they wouldn't have time to put the presentations together. This is not necessarily true for two reasons:
1. Nearpod can import any PDF file. Most common software can export to PDF format. So you know that rusty old PowerPoint you've been using for ten years? Ten minutes in Nearpod and it can be refreshed, interactive and engaging once more.
2. Who says that a Nearpod has to last a whole session? A quick title screen and an interactive quiz provide a great AfL opportunity that allows you to tailor the learning that follows to specific levels of learner. It's more interesting than a paper based quiz, you get instant results and a digital record for future reference. What's not to like?
Another idea is to present what we've come to dub a split Nearpod session with a practical activity sandwiched between two halves of a Nearpod (yes you can access other apps/close the iPad and still be in the Nearpod session.) This means that you can assess prior learning, stream for differentiated tasks then return to the Nearpod to make conclusions or gauge understanding.
Many educators use a traffic light system with kids for self-assessment. For the uninitiated, what this generally means is RED represents problems/need for more support, AMBER means ok but not completely happy/confident with a task and GREEN that the student is confident in their understanding of a given activity. The traffic light app is a full screen representation of traffic lights which can be used in a similar way. The advantage here is that the digital nature of the lights make them vibrant and easy to see if you are scanning a room full with a large group of students. Naturally this setup would benefit from a 1-1 device scheme being in place, though fewer devices could be shared between students (e.g. in pairs.)
Another of our favourite apps for assessment due to its simplicity and ease of use. Class Act allows users to input multiple class groups and arrange them on screen to represent seating plans. Each student can then be clicked to shade them with the traffic light colours (and there’s even a purple colour to represent those that reach extension tasks.) At the end of a session, the given colour is flushed to the outline of the student icon meaning that educators can quickly see how students fared in the lesson before. This is especially useful for:
Assessment for learning and grouping students according to their needs from topic to topic
Providing data when other teachers cover you class
Tracking progress across a topic. Each student can be clicked on and a log of each objective appears, shaded with the colours they attained.
Another great feature of Class Act is the ability to switch to colours denoting the skills associated with Bloom’s Taxonomy. This is useful for assessing project-based work that incorporates a wider range of skills.
Markers can also be set on students which could be used to denote SEN, EAL or other specific groups that need to be tracked by the teacher.
One idea I’ve played around with using Class Act is using it for self-assessment. Leave the app open and have students tap their name to label themselves as they leave the room/the lesson ends. Of course you could also do this before the lesson and then have them return at the end to change their level if they thought they had made progress!
Multiple classes can be added to the full version of the app but a final tip is this – why not split classes down into specific areas? We have a weekly dedicated problem-solving session for Maths, so I just duplicated my Maths Set class file and created Maths Set Problem Solving. This means that the progress in these distinct sessions can be tracked independently. Similarly you could use duplicate groups to track grammar, spelling, punctuation etc in English lessons.
Teacher Notes is another type of assessment app with its own unique selling point. In this case it’s the app’s ability to file and then sort formative assessment notes in a variety of ways. Once again you start by creating a class and adding students to it. The main difference here is that you can also edit subject categories and “domains” – which opens up a wide range of possibilities (L2L skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy, behavioural etc.) Users are then able to write a note and tag it to a child or group AS WELL as to a subject or additional criteria. So a teacher can access the filing system and bring up all the notes for John Smith or filter to just see his English notes. Of course they could also bring up the English notes alone but for the whole class. This makes Teacher Notes an excellent tool for tracking progress and a wonder for parent teacher conferences!
Notes can include multimedia content like photos, video clips and audio clips for quick use on the go in class. Our PE staff have found the app hugely useful, especially with the Early Years students where they are looking to track progress in the development of their motor skills.
A class-based device could be left open for specialist teachers (e.g. a language teacher) to use too, providing great opportunities for cross-referencing feedback on students. Since the domains are editable, it means that behaviour or attention criteria could be added and used in this regard. Dropbox synching is also possible.
Another app we really like for its simplicity of use, designed by the PE Geek himself, Jarrod Robinson. Create your class list and design a custom rubric from your own selection of criteria, giving each a scale to judge against. When you choose to start an assessment, just select the class and rubric and you’re off! The great thing here is that since the rubrics are separate from the actual assessments, they can be recycled across multiple assessments. During assessment, the user is presented with a simple set of slider scales to quickly level each student’s progress. Additional data can be tagged to each student in note, photo and even video form. When you’re finished, just export to email and a handy excel spreadsheet is yours for analysis.
Thinking again of other ways to utilise the given application, I recently used Easy Assessment in a poetry performance themed lesson. Each group of four were given an iPad with the app on and charged with the task of designing their own rubric as a team. This lead to some great discussion over what criteria were most crucial. They then used the app to assess each other’s performances using their own criteria. I told them in advance that the highest scorer in each group would go through to a final, which I would judge and that although the overall winner would receive a prize, the team they represented would all be rewarded. This ensured that they were thorough and just in their peer-assessments as they wanted the best person to represent them in the final!
Socrative Is a simple student response system that actually uses a pair of apps (Teacher/Student versions) to great effect. It can also be used on a desktop (like Nearpod.)
The simplest use of the app entails educators hosting on the spot true/false or multiple choice quizzes to assess understanding. The great thing about these is that users don’t actually have to spend any time creating content – the questions can be asked orally or written on a physical board in the classroom. Thus educators can quickly log responses and gauge the overall level of understanding in the class. The multiple choice option could even be harnessed for AfL by posing a question like “How well did you understand this topic?” – with the letters A-E on the answer clicker becoming representations of confidence levels.
Next up is the short answer question. Options here include the ability to actually type in the question rather than present it orally as in the last two activities covered, the choice to allow multiple answers from students and the choice to require names upon the submission of answers. Things get even more interesting when you factor in two key elements for thise type of task:
As the answers come in, you can choose to accept or delete them before pinging a tailored selection back to the students for a poll-vote.
You will be given the option to email data to yourself based on the task – allowing for further assessment of the data!
So for example, a metacognitive approach could be employed:
“What skills did we use in this lesson?” – leading to discussion and a vote on the most popular responses. The follow up email could then be used to assess the understanding of the class as to the skills they have employed.
There’s still more to Socrative though – next up are the full quizzes. Working as you would expect, the key difference here is that the quizzes/assessments are pre-made (can be done in Excel too). Quizzes can be student or teacher paced and can even be completed collaboratively in the form of a simple “Space Race” game. Questions can be set as polls, multiple choice or open answers. Feedback to the students can be hidden or instantly provided and the teacher can see the results logged live if required.
The final option on hand is a self-contained assessment for learning gem called Exit Ticket. This takes the form of a pre-set quiz that asks three key questions:
How well did you understand the material? (multiple choice)
What did you learn today? (free response)
Can you solve the question on the board? (free response)
Socrative is easy to use, comprehensive and engaging. What more could you want?
Our last offering is a very different kind of assessment tool. It’s web-based (classdojo.com) with an accompanying app that harnesses the portability of the iPad to make applying it easier. It’s also aimed at behaviour management.
Once again, we start with class set up – this time accompanied by cute little monster avatars. The educator then assigns positive points and negative points to various behavioural traits such as good/poor focus, calling out answers, quiet work, teamwork etc. It should be noted that the data needs to be added/edited on a desktop and the app itself is only for recording during sessions.
So during a session, the children can be assigned points at the click of a button (or touch screen!) to create a dynamic, engaging experience for the students and teacher alike! The students can even be given their own access to the app to customise their avatar and follow their progress. Moreover parents can also be given a login to allow for transparency between home and school. Data at each access level varies and is always appropriate.
It’s a great idea that works really well.
Now imagine using it for formative assessment instead of behaviour.
You can fully edit the criteria lists and there’s nothing forcing you to stick to behaviour-based choices. So imagine using the app to assess writing WHILST engaging a group and raising their focus levels. Positive points could be awarded for correct punctuation or impressive vocabulary whilst negatives could take the form of missing capital letters or handwriting that’s not joined up! It’s just another example of looking for a new way to harness an effective piece of software in the way that suits you, the educator.