Monday, October 5, 2015

Formative Assessments - Stupendous or Stupefying?

Teachers, students, classrooms, and iPads. Technology integration in the classroom is expanding on a daily basis. iPads are used for note taking, researching an answer to a question during a discussion, in-class presentations by teacher and student, and various project-based assignments such as audio recordings or iMovies. One use for iPads in the classroom is for quick assessments of knowledge a.k.a., formative assessment. We've demonstrated some of these types of tools during professional development days but with the ever changing tech landscape there have been changes, improvements and new tools created. So what does formative assessment look like in your classroom? Do students groan in protest when you announce a quiz? Haven't you complained about the number of Google Forms you've had to complete? Is it because of the quiz itself or do you always use the same tool? Granted, groaning before a quiz is a typical response but mixing up the tools you use for formative assessment can make things a little more interesting. So... Here are some other ideas for formative assessments to add to your toolbox:

Socrative - Build traditional quizzes, assess on the fly with Quick Question, check for understanding with an Exit Ticket or create a quiz and let students compete during a Space Race. Socrative give exportable feedback results and includes percentages so you can use it for grading as well if you choose. There is even a collection of shared quizzes that you can borrow from and contribute to. Lots of tools for zero dollars!

Formative - Many assessment tools allow for uploading of images but with Formative students can also draw using their finger or a stylus on the iPad. This means it's a useful tool for math and science as well as other subject areas that require the ability to show your work. Teachers see live results and can give immediate feedback.

Kahoot! - Students like Kahoot! It turns assessment into a game. The colors are bright, there is music playing (if you choose), and they can compete against their classmates. Use it for quizzes, surveys and/or discussions. Here are some suggestions for playing! Access via a web browser on computer or iPad.

Paper by 53 - Wait a minute... Isn't this a drawing app? Yes! An awesome free tool that will allow students to visually display their learning. Who needs poster board any more? Paper by 53 is a great tool not only for visual note taking (sketchnotes) but can also be used to illustrate student understanding of the concepts you are discussing in class. Students can share their drawings with you via email, Google Drive & Classroom, Evernote, etc.

Explain Everything - This whiteboarding/screencasting app has it all! Yes, it's a paid iPad app but we've purchased licensing so all teachers and students can download the app from our AirWatch App Catalog without cost. Write, draw, import images or pdf docs, record audio, add additional screens and when you are finished, export to Drive, Evernote, YouTube, etc. Use Explain Everything for assessment, video lessons when you are going to be absent, have students create a lesson to teach each other, etc. With this one you can, as the name implies, explain anything and everything.

Today's Meet - This Twitter-like back channel app is a nice tool to give students an experience similar to Twitter but keep conversations within your classroom. You create your meeting room and students join. Once they join, they can ask questions, answer a question you pose, or comment on a discussion. If you want to keep things anonymous so that those students that don't normally share can participate during a discussion have them use a pseudonym or assign each student a random number that you know but the other students in the room wouldn't recognize. Access via a web browser on computer or iPad.

AudioBoom - Have auditory learners that have a hard time demonstrating their knowledge using traditional text methods? With AudioBoom, students can create and share audio podcasts. After uploading to their AudioBoo account they can share their podcast to Google Classroom to turn in their assignment.

EdPuzzle - Many teachers use videos in the classroom or in a flipped environment. EdPuzzle allows your to check for understanding of the video content by allow teachers to embed questions within the video content. Teachers can use videos from YouTube, Khan Academy and other resources. Create your content and assessments on your computer and students can download the EdPuzzle App for use on their iPads.

With so many different tools at your fingertips, assessment can become a fun and informative classroom activity.


  1. Hi Mary~
    I really want to start using explain everything. I often have my students use screen chomp to record videos. One student said, "We already have something like this called 'Explain Everything'" I'll be contacting you soon.

    1. Sounds like a plan. I think both you and your students will find Explain Everything a great tool.