Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Digital Assessments: More than an online quiz

There is a sea of assessment tools out there in the EdTech world: Kahoot, Google Forms, GoFormative, Nearpod, Socrative... the list goes on and on. All of these types of tools are good. They can give students instantaneous feedback, and can become more engaging. The but the question is, how are these tools more than just a digital worksheet?

There are many reasons that districts jump on the 1:1 digital bandwagon. The biggest arguably being that technology allows for great support of Personalized Learning. So is taking a quiz and putting it in Google Forms personalized learning?

EdTech gives us the opportunity to add Voice & Choice to how the students want to be assessed. We now have audio, video, graphic design, and many other tools at our students fingertips!

Thinking "Outside the box" on Assessments

1. Graphic Design Displays - Designing posters and infographics no longer takes hours of time with scissors, construction paper, and poster board. Students can use tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, & Piktochart to easily create graphics to display and/or explain their learning. Wouldn't your students take more ownership in their learning if they were developing a social media graphic about the causes of the Civil War as opposed to filling out a google form?

2. Video & Multimedia - There are so many video and media tools available these days. Screencastify, Explain Everything, Educreations, SeeSaw, and FlipGrid are all simple tools for students to record with. With these tools, we can ask every student to explain how they solved a problem as they submit an answer. When the student reviews their video explanation before submitting, they are checking their metacognition! How often does a multiple choice test do that for us?

3. Global Publishing - This option comes with a disclaimer - students under the age of 13 are not legally permitted to use social media accounts.
For our middle - high school students, we can allow them to share their learning through a blog, mini blog (twitter), or other social media outlet. This allows them to ask for feedback from others. Think about the effect of meaningful conversations with others, including experts, would have on the learning of a topic.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Summer Learning for Educators: The Someday/Monday Approach

Image result for someday monday
This post is week 6 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators from To find out more, click here.

Summer learning for educators; there can be so much of it. Conferences, book studies, twitter chats, sessions at the local co-op. etc... The question always is, "how am I going to implement all of these great things into my classroom next year?" The answer is, "you may not... and that's okay." 

A few years back, Feb of 2015, I was able to attend a summit from the EdTechTeacher team. At the summit, I was able to see a fantastic member of their team, Tom Daccord. At the end of Daccord's presentation, he gave some advice: Take the Someday/Monday Approach.

The Someday/Monday approach is simple, but important to those of us that love to soak in tons of professional learning. 
  1. Think of your "someday." That is what your classroom will be like once all of these pieces are fully implemented. "Someday my classroom will ________." Write it down, capture your vision. This may even be a multi year plan. 
  2. What is the first step on "Monday" that you can accomplish towards this goal? Keep it simple, keep it small. Don't try to change too much all at once. 
The key is to constantly revisit your "someday" and check on your progress towards it. Once a step is made/implimented, plan the next step. 

I invite all of my fellow educators to create your Someday/Monday plan, before day one of the school year! Feel free to share in the comments below. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Empowering Students to Share Their Learning

This post is week 5 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators from Find out more by clicking here.

Most of us have been there before as either the teacher or the student. It's the first week of school, and out comes the predictable prompt: "What experiences did you have during the summer?" Now don't get me wrong, it's a decent prompt for building rapport between the teacher and their students, but there has to be a way we can shake it up a little bit, right?

Think about what your students have been doing most of this summer... They've been on social media, sharing (sometimes oversharing) almost every day. Selfies at the ball park, a victory on Fortnite, hanging by the pool, etc... All of this leading to the question, "How do we get them to connect their life experiences to their classroom experiences?" My answer, let them share. 

Social Media of THEIR Choice:
Instead of that writing prompt the first week of school, why not set up a social media prompt. "With the platform of your choice, share an experience you had over the summer and include what you learned from the experience." Then create a hashtag for it... or better yet, let the class create the hashtag for it. SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the platform doesn't matter. Have them get out their phone and share not only something they did, but what they LEARNED from the experience. Remember social media is only for students ages 13 and over, check out other options below. 


Flipgrid Sharing:
If you are timid of the social media route, then set up a Flipgrid for your class and ask the same prompt. Flipgrid will keep the videos private within your class, but students can still respond to each other. 

Shared Videos via QR Code:
Allow students to use classroom or personal devices to record a video of themselves answering the prompt. Save the videos to a cloud drive, such as Google Drive, then take that link and create a qr code. There are many qr code generators out there, just Google qr generator and you will be good to go. Print and post the qr codes in your classroom or in the hallway of your school.
Why do this?
There are several benefits to this activity:
  • Student Voice: You are starting the year off by asking them to share something that THEY want to share. They have control over what they share with the class. 
  • Digital Citizenship: It's important for students to learn to post and respond appropriately on social media. 
  • Sharing their Learning: If students are sharing their learning, they are taking ownership in it. Taking these steps will encourage them to begin to share what they have learned, without a teacher directing them to.  
The Real Challenge:
Keep the sharing going all year long. Frequently ask them to pick something from the class that they learned about, and make a post about it in what ever platform you desire. Even if it is just on a Padlet Wall or in Google Classroom, keep them sharing what they learn. 

Imagine months later, your students are at the dinner table. When the parent asks the inevitable "What did you learn in school today?" Their response, "I posted it on Instagram for you to see!"