Tuesday, 15 November 2016

New Assessment Tools

Photo Credit: Nicole Reeve
Over the course of the last couple of years I have been involved in a couple of ed tech classes and have had the opportunity to use a variety of assessment tools within my classroom. My students love the variety of tools that I have played around with. Kahoot is probably the students favorite, and it is great for a quick summative assessment tool to see where students are in the learning process. Similar to Kahoot is Plickers. I tried a couple of years ago to incorporate Plickers into my classroom, but the way I have my classes I found managing the 120 students I see daily difficult. This is a tool I would like to retry eventually because the students like the instant and interactive feedback they get from this tool. In regards to portfolio tools like See-Saw or a blogging tool such as Blogger, or Wordpress I have not incorporated either of these into my daily repertoire like Erin has, basically because of the setting I am in. In my school we have a pod of 4 teachers that co-plan and teach our ELA/Math and split our curriculum subjects (Science, Social, Health, Career and Phys Ed, with prep coverage for French and Arts Ed). So because we would all have to be on board with developing a portfolio tool or a blogging site I have not pushed to get us there yet. I have been working on my pod to incorporate GAFE within our classes.

Since GAFE has been my focus specifically in the last 8-10 months this is what I will break down in how I use it as an assessment tool. While this week has been a little hectic in my world... Between PD day, Remembrance Day, and a variety of interruptions in my regular daily schedule I was unable to attempt using a "new" assessment tool. I utilize GAFE often, most specifically Classroom, Drive, and Docs. I want to attempt incorporating Google Forms as a new assessment tool, mostly for a formative use to quickly gauge where my students are, but due to my busy week I am going to explain how I use Google Docs as a formative and summative assessment tool.

If anyone is interested this is the video I am using to help me develop my understanding of Google Forms

I use Google Docs mainly because of the accountability piece. It forces students to be organized so the don't "lose" their assignments. I also like it for the flexible learning opportunities that come with it. Google Docs allows my students to do their work outside of the regular classroom because of a variety of reasons: sports, dance, cultural, anxiety, etc. Another reason I appreciate using Google Docs is because of the interactivity piece to it. It allows me to interact with the students throughout the assignment to ensure students are on task and following instructions.

The major challenges that I came across when setting up have been varied; some have been physical limitations, bandwidth, enough technology for all students to be active, speed of technology to be effective, other challenges have been learning how to attach, connect, and use the tools properly. There are times where students are working on a word document that is not connected, or they have created their own document and not attached it to the specified assignment, so I am unable to check in on them and give them instant feedback.

Once the procedures have been put in place and the students understand how to create a document, link it properly and work within the GAFE network, the students have had mostly positive things to say about using Google Docs. Their accountability has increased and I am receiving more assignments on time than I have, the ownership piece when students have not completed the assignments is much more specific and they are typically on top of their assignments and have reasons for being unable to complete, along with parent contact explaining the reasons. I am not saying there are not "reasons"/excuses still occurring for incomplete work, but the amount of the "reasons" has decreased dramatically, and when students have not completed the work, they own up to it, typically before the class has even began. I take that as a win in the overall development of a student, and attribute it to the accountability piece that GAFE brings my classroom.

In terms of how I use the Docs as an assessment tool, I attempt to leave a comment in every students work for each assignment of merit (assignments that require thought, process, and development, not simple question and answer assignments). Within the assignments that are inquiry based, or longer writing pieces, students have the opportunity to work on, view my comments, make changes and develop their writing process more effectively. I also encourage my students to use the link option to show where they are receiving their information from so they can demonstrate how they are synthesizing their information. As we work together on their assignments through back and forth check ins and the student editing, changing, or adding to them, the work is developed to a higher quality than they have done in the past.

The interactivity of Docs allows me to see my students assignments faster than I would if I took the work in at the end of the class, viewed them over my prep, lunch or after school, then hand them back the next day to work on. I am able to leave comments while the students are working, or over my prep, lunch, or outside of school hours and that gives the students more time and opportunity to be working on their assignments on their own schedule. The negatives to using Docs is when other classes want to be using the physical technology of the laptops/iPad's we have at our disposal within our school. We have a 1:3 ratio of technology to students, and while that is a decent ratio, with a large portion of our teachers wanting to incorporate technology into their daily teaching it makes it difficult to ensure all students have a device at every time during the day. I am lucky to teach in an area where a variety of students have a device, but many times their "device" is an iPod or iPhone where working on a Google Doc is difficult. The occasionally students who are away for illness or any other reason, do not complete the assignments because they still have the attitude that since they were not in class they should not have to complete the assignment. I do work with pre-teens and early teenagers who sometimes have a difficulty understanding that their world is not exclusive to their needs.

As for how I use the Google Docs as a summative/formative assessment tool... Well as you can see I definitely use it as a formative teaching tool in how I interact with the students through the learning process, but at the same time the students do a lot of question answer, or exit notes, and other summative assessments through this as well. If I am doing a summative assessment I typically will have the students print off and "Turn In" their assignments so I can evaluate with a hard copy in front of me, and if I misplace a students work I am able to reprint to ensure each student has their piece evaluated.

Overall I feel that I am using Google Docs effectively and incorporating a variety of modes of communication to ensure my students are on the right track and gaining a breadth of knowledge through using technology as a tool for their independent learning.