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Making Learning More Engaging & Interactive: Formative Assessment Tools You Can Use!

posted Oct 19, 2015, 10:04 AM by wafflem@calhounisd.org   [ updated Oct 26, 2015, 7:17 AM ]

Submitted by Dr. Jennifer Parker-Moore,
Macomb Intermediate School District, REMC 18S

Collect data using engaging tools that incorporate video feedback, interactives, and virtual learning

Today's learner is influenced by a high-tech society filled with SmartPhones, video gaming, portable mobile devices, and animation.  According to the 2015 K-12 Horizon Report, augmented reality, the Maker Movement, and wearable technology are top emerging trends. In the area of assessments, educators now administer summative assessments online and the move to one-to-one devices is becoming increasingly more popular. So how can educators respond to these trends, make learning more engaging and entertaining, and improve student achievement in the process?  

Technology trends have transformed educator productivity, student activities, and data collection for school reporting.  Educators use technology to collect data to inform objectives and increase productivity.  Students use technology for lessons, assessment, and engagement.

Answer:  Spice up your lessons, activities, and assessments with Interactive Learning

Formative assessment tools can help guide instruction. Setting objectives and providing feedback are two of the most important “best practice recommendations” for improving student performance (Dean, Pitler, Hubbell, Stone, 2012).  How can educators frame their objectives, assess student baseline knowledge, chart student progress, or give immediate feedback to students on their levels of learning? What technology can support these critical elements of improving student achievement?  

Enter formative assessment tools and interactive learning…..

Educators are asked to collect four types of data:  demographic, perception, process, and achievement data.  As technology has evolved, many tools exist to support educators in the collection of data – specifically achievement and perception data.  Online tools have changed the way we collect data – including student information systems, data warehousing, and online tools and apps.  

In 2000, eInstruction pioneered CPS "Clickers". These handheld devices looked like television remote controls, and were used by students to "click in" answers to pre-set questions the teacher displayed using multimedia. This revolutionary assessment system because a safe but costly bet for engagement and assessment.  Fast forward to 2015, where online formative assessment tools like Polleverywhere have turned SmartPhones into personal clickers, and students are given QR codes to vote using a single device Plicker system.  Take it a step further, and use Polleverywhere for a visual interpretation of responses with word clouds, also made popular by AnswerGarden.  For practice activities, consider the interactive flash cards found at Quizlet, Cram, or game-like activities at Illuminations, PBS Learning Media, or National Library of Virtual Manipulatives.

In most cases, the Internet now offers a variety of free online formative and interactive tools to help educators gauge or gear up their instruction. Looking to create your own online poll or survey? Check out Survey Monkey, Kwik Survey, or GoSoapbox - which all have polling and survey features that provide immediate graphs, as well as reports for analysis.  If you don't need the bells and whistles, and want simple online questions or surveys with multiple questions, consider using Office 365's Excel Surveys, or Google Drive's Forms.  The benefits of these two tools are the spreadsheets they create behind the scenes for further inquiry and analysis. The power of polling and surveys creates unique opportunities for educators to create online assessment using that same technology. Multiple questions surveys become multiple question assessments - with data ending up in a spreadsheet format that is easily uploaded into any grading system.

For a more entertaining approach to formative assessment, check out Kahoot.it and Quizizz.   Polls, surveys, or quizzes that allow the teacher to upload images, video, and audio to increase the effect and allow you to enter your class list for tracking and reporting. Add games to the mix, or replicate many summative test types using Socrative - which allows the teacher to create classrooms, and add multiple questions assessments using a variety of media.  Robust reporting and datasets are the best features when you try Quizalize, EDPuzzle, or GoFormative. Quizalize can point out individual student progress, including which were the hardest questions and who needs more help.  Improve the way you thoughtfully critique your students by creating video feedback voiceover, notes, or embed questions with EDPuzzle.  Make it your lesson, assign it to the class, and monitor student progress.  With GoFormative you can even upload existing documents (e.g. pdf’s) and transform them into online assessments for classes that self-enroll using a code.  

So get started today -- make your classroom more interactive and engaging with these great online formative tools to poll, survey, quiz, assess, or inform your teaching.  

For more activities to support formative assessment, interactive learning, and virtual learning – check out21things4teachers.net -- Things 11 (Content Area), 12 (Interactives), and 17 (Evaluation and Assessment) and the Additional Resources.