Tag: assessments

33 Digital Exit Tickets That Fit Most Subjects

exit ticketsExit tickets (or exit slips) are a time-proven method of checking understanding in the classroom. Often, this means students write down (with pen and paper) a two-three sentence take-away summary of the day’s lesson and turn it in prior to exiting the class. It’s easily understand, requires little preparation, and is done in minutes.

Robert Marzano, classroom researcher and education author, shares four uses for exit slips. Students:

  1. rate their current understanding of new learning
  2. analyze and reflect on their efforts around the learning

….and teachers:

  1. gain feedback on an instructional strategy
  2. gain feedback about the materials and teaching

Technology provides a great opportunity to update this popular activity so it can be collaborative, shared, and published for the benefit of all. A few weeks ago, I published a Google Spreadsheet as a collaborative way for all of us to share our Exit Ticket suggestions. Here are 28 ideas from readers. I love the variety:

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3 Free/Freemium Tools for Rubrics

Rubrics are a well-accepted, even transformative tool for assessing student knowledge over a breadth of criteria. Their deep granular detail enables students to quickly understand what is expected of them, teachers to receive critical feedback on student learning, and both sides to benefit from an agile yet objective tool for measuring workflow competency.

But they are not without their problems. The pre-online versions weren’t dynamic or flexible, couldn’t be re-used, and few teachers had the time or energy to build these summative, purpose-built assessments. That changed with online rubrics. These webtools offer standard topical text that can be quickly personalized, saved for re-use in the future, and easily updated year-to-year to reflect changes in the curriculum and desired learning outcomes.

There are many online rubric creators, each with a little different twist on the norm. Here are three that fill different needs. Decide which works the best for you:

rubistarRubistar

Free

Rubistar is the gold standard of online rubric creators. It lets teachers personalize categories and qualifications, save, and then edit for another class. You can use the site rubric templates or modify them to better serve your particular needs. Rubrics can be created in English or Spanish, in ten different subject areas, with ten or more skill categories (this varies depending upon the subject chosen).

Here’s how it works:

  • Set up an account so you can save your rubrics, making them available to be re-used and edited for future needs. This is optional–rubrics can be created without registering.
  • Pick the subject category you wish to create a rubric for.
  • Start with a generic template or from scratch. Alternatively, search by keyword or topic for rubrics other Rubistar members have created and remix those.
  • Pick a grading scale–either numeric or descriptive.
  • Pick a category for each row from the drop-down list and the rubric automatically populates with language defining what the category would look like based on the rating.
  • Edit criteria so it perfectly fits your needs or accept the well-considered defaults.
  • When you’re done, submit.
  • Once the rubric is rendered, you can print, download, or make it available online to your account.

Educational applications

Rubistar is invaluable in creating personalized, quick rubrics that are easily edited for varied needs. For registered users, there’s a vast library of rubrics created by members that can be used. Teachers can also use the rubric to evaluate student performance. For example, if a third of students scored poorly on ‘Diagrams’ in the math rubric, the teacher knows immediately this is an area that requires review.

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writer

7 Innovative Writing Methods for Students

assessment

Knowledge is meant to be shared. That’s what writing is about–taking what you know and putting it out there for all to see. When students hear the word “writing”, most think paper-and-pencil, maybe word processing, but that’s the vehicle, not the goal. According to state and national standards (even international), writing is expected to “provide evidence in support of opinions”, “examine complex ideas and information clearly and accurately”, and/or “communicate in a way that is appropriate to task, audience, and purpose”. Nowhere do standards dictate a specific tool be used to accomplish the goals.

In fact, the tool students select to share knowledge will depend upon their specific learning style. Imagine if you–the artist who never got beyond stick figures–had to draw a picture that explained the nobility inherent in the Civil War. Would you feel stifled? Would you give up? Now put yourself in the shoes of the student who is dyslexic or challenged by prose as they try to share their knowledge.

When you first bring this up in your class, don’t be surprised if kids have no idea what you’re talking about. Many students think learning  starts with the teacher talking and ends with a quiz. Have them take the following surveys:

Both are based on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner’s iconic model for mapping out learning modalities such as linguistic, hands-on, kinesthetic, math, verbal, and art. Understanding how they learn explains why they remember more when they write something down or read their notes rather than listening to a lecture. If they learn logically (math), a spreadsheet is a good idea. If they are spatial (art) learners, a drawing program is a better choice.

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classroom tech tools

3 Favorite Classroom Apps

Here’s an excellent collection of great apps for your classroom — to cover writing, research, and assessment. You can even use all three on one project:

storyboard thatStoryboard That

Free; fee for education accounts 

Storyboard That is a leader among online digital storytelling tools thanks to its comic-based themes, clean layout, vast collection of story pieces, varied strip layouts, and intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Students map out ideas using a huge library of backgrounds, characters, text boxes, shapes, and images (with over 325 characters, 225 scenes, and 45,000 images).  With an education account, teachers also get teacher guides and lesson plans. 

Here’s how it works: Log into your account and Storyboard That automatically adapts to your device (whether it’s a desktop, Chromebook, or iPad). Select the layout you’d like, then add a background, characters, one or more props, and speech bubbles from Storyboard That’s collections. Each element can be resized, rotated, and repositioned to exactly suit your needs. Characters can also be adjusted for appearance, emotion, and action. You can even upload images and record a voice overlay (premium only) to narrate the story. Once finished, storyboards can be saved as PDFs, PowerPoints, and/or emailed out.

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technology goals

What are Good Tech Goals for Students?

technology goalsA frequent question from readers revolves around technology goals for students. It’s tempting to phrase goals like:

4th graders can create a chart in a spreadsheet 

or:

80% of 5th graders can complete ten skills in MS Word (or Google Docs)

But that’s not what technology is about. Technology supports a curriculum. It’s the pencils and books of our digital world. It scaffolds learning, making it blended, normative, rigorous, and granular. The metric for measuring technology skills isn’t a rubric with a list of skills (i.e., add a border, include a hyperlink, and changed the font color). Rather, it’s evidence of the transfer of knowledge: Did the student use technology to further his/her educational journey?

Here are seven authentic technology goals that are scalable to your needs and can be spiraled up or down as required:

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teacher websites

Dear Otto: Evaluating Faculty Websites

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Melissa:

I have heard repeatedly from many of my high school social studies students that they rarely use teacher websites. Most who say they do do so only to obtain homework assignments (many prefer to text other students for assignments rather than go online). In general they report that they do not explore the websites any further than they must.
I do find that AP students use teacher created websites frequently, Honors students less so. 
I am looking for research on measured student use of teacher websites. Commercial sites collect extensive data on visitor behavior (dwell time, click through, and etc.).  Are you aware of any research along those lines?
 ..
I’m not familiar with such research so I’m putting it out to my readers. If you have a teacher website that measures visitors, or if you know of this sort of research, please add a comment and a link.
 ..
I know when I had a teacher website several years ago, it was rarely visited by students, even though I tried to add relevant, authentic information. That wasn’t just mine, either; it was all teachers at the school. My Principal tasked me with evaluating faculty websites to see if it was a content issue rather than user disinterest. I adapted a rubric offered in the public domain by the University of Wisconsin-Stout (I’ve attached it for reference). I found that most teachers (in excess of 75%) 1) didn’t keep them up to date, 2) had the wrong information,  or 3) didn’t even have one. It was the rare individual that had a solid, well-thought out website. That–I shared with the committee–was why students weren’t visiting.

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online test

How to Prepare Students for PARCC/SBACC Tests

prepare for parccThis is a reprint of an article I posted last Spring. By starting these tasks in Fall, you’ll be ready when yearly assessments arrive in April-May:

Between March and June, 2015, nearly five million students in 11 states and the District of Columbia completed the PARCC and Smarter Balanced testing to measure student accomplishment of Common Core State Standards in the areas of mathematics and English/language arts. Tests were administered via digital devices (though there are options for paper-and-pencil). Besides measuring student achievement, they also were an indicator of school facility to administer green digital tests instead of the traditional paper-and-pencil versions. Lots of schools discovered that, though student knew the material, they were unable to adequately communicate their knowledge using unfamiliar digital tools as basic as keyboard familiarity.

I polled my PLN to find specific tech areas students needed help with in preparing for the Assessments. It boils down to five tech areas. Pay attention to these and your students will be much more prepared for this Spring’s Common Core assessments:

Keyboardingkeyboarding

Students need to have enough familiarity with the keyboard that they know where keys are, where the number pad is, where the F row is, how keys are laid out. They don’t need to be touch typists or even facilely use all fingers. Just have them comfortable enough they have a good understanding of where all the pieces are. Have students type fifteen minutes a week in a class setting and 45 minutes a week using keyboarding for class activities (homework, projects–that sort). That’ll do it.

Basic computer skills

Skills that were listed by teachers as difficult for students included:

  • Drag-droptech in ed
  • Compare-contrast
  • Write a letter
  • Watch a video
  • Fill in boxes on table
  • Mouse manipulation
  • Keyboarding
  • Know keyboard layout—delete, arrows, space bar
  • Drop-down menus
  • Highlighting
  • Unselect
  • Scroll
  • Use calculator, protractor, ruler
  • Use video player
  • Use multiple windows/tabs
  • Use online dictionaries, thesauruses
  • Plot points
  • Read and comprehend online

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7 Authentic Assessment Tools

Assessments have become a critical piece to education reform. To prepare students well for college and career means they must deeply learn the material and its application to their lives and future learning.That means assessing student knowledge authentically and accountably.

This doesn’t stop with quizzes, tests, and memorizing facts. Those approaches may be prescriptive, but they don’t measure results in a way that leverages learning. Good assessments should verify:

  • that students have unpacked a lesson and applied it rigorously
  • that students have connected lessons to other learning and applied it to their lives
  • that students take responsibility for their learning by embracing deep learning
  • that students think creatively with their new information
  • that lessons are scalable and dependent upon each child’s learning style
  • that students are stakeholders in this effort, not passive consumers

A well-formed assessment achieves these six characteristics constructively. It’s not always measured by a grade, as is common in summative assessments. Sometimes it derives evidence of learning from anecdotal observation, watching students apply prior learning, working in groups, or participating in classroom discussions.

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grammar websites

3 Apps to Combat Grammar Faux Pas

Grammar has often been a subject students resisted learning, were bored by, or flat out didn’t understand. That’s changed, thanks to the popularity of iPads and their multimedia, multi-sensory apps. Here are three apps that will turn your classroom grammar program around.

photoGrammaropolis

Free (fee required for full options)

4/5 stars

Overview

Called the Schoolhouse Rock of the 21st Century, Grammaropolis gamifies a subject that has traditionally been about laboriously conjugating verbs and diagramming sentences. Its eight cheery cartoon characters star in 9 books, 9 music videos, 20 animated shorts, 26 quiz categories, and a multitude of games which–when blended together–teach grammar. Through the vehicle of a map, catchy music and fast-paced lessons, students learn the parts of speech and win seals. Content is thorough, useful, and accurate, the app intuitive to use with a minimal learning curve. There is no software to download, no maintenance, no fuss. Students can sign up as an individual or through a class account where the teacher can track their progress. It’s available on iPads, smartphones, and the web.The iPad app opens immediately to the student account (only one user per iPad account) while the web interface requires a log-in.

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