Saturday, May 24, 2014


Photo by: Fancy Jantzi
All teachers know that purposeful, formative assessment is critical to maximizing student learning. We always want to check and monitor student understanding as we design and differentiate our lessons.  The use of digital tools in the process of formative assessment can save us time and energy if used properly.  I say properly because there can be a tendency to let a prescribed software scope and sequence determine how to meet a student's needs with out carefully analyzing specific assessment results and aligning the digital application to what has been taught in class.  

Let's say for example that I am teaching a unit on the Grade 2 CCSS math standard 2 MD.7 - Tell and write time from a analog and digital clocks to the nearest 5 minutes using am and pm.  I might start with a 10 question, formative assessment such as this which I assigned from a program called TenMarks. This application is currently free to teachers but if you want to use the more advanced intervention features there is a per student cost of $20.00.  One aspect of the TenMarks program which I find beneficial is that the questions are read to the student.  This feature helps us rule out that the reading ability of students is the cause for student error on a math item.

During the unit on telling time to 5 minute intervals a teacher may want to build in the use of  Socrative, a student response system, to gain live feedback on student understanding.  The teacher could also assign an open-ended performance task. The task would require the use of an iPad so it is appropriate for a class which is equipped with iPads.  The task would involve each student or teams of students to create a time stamped photo journal of their day or a part of their day. The assignment can be either an in school assignment or an at home assignment.  Students would be asked to record  7 to 10 activities over the assigned time block and post them to Padlet.  Students would note the time to the closest 5 minute interval and label the posts accordingly.

After some guided and independent practice a teacher would want to assess learning before moving on to another concept.  One way to do that could be to use a free tool called .  With this tool you can create your class, assign lessons, assign formative quizzes, and receive reports on student activity.  There are several features which allow a teacher to customize the assessment environment.  Teachers can set the length of a quiz by number of questions given.  The level of difficulty for a particular skill can be changed. The assessment can be timed or untimed.  Students may or may not be given immediate feedback on their answer.  There is even a feature to allow the teacher to Tweet the assignment or quiz to all their students. The site is available in 10 languages.

There are literally hundreds of ways to incorporate technology into your formative assessment process. Some tools are better suited for specific content areas.  Here are some links which I found fun and informative to explore.

You Tube 10 minute video: "About Assessment: Reshan Richards at TEDxNYED"   Mr. Richards is the developer of Explain Everything iPad app.  Here is a tutorial which is demonstrated for college professor use but I could also envision our students using the app.

Don't Use Kahn Academy Without Watching This First - Education Week

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