I remember when (not too long ago) one of my past administrators counted grades, went from teacher to teacher making notes of how many homework assignments, tests, and quizzes were given each quarter, putting value on number and not student success—as if doing a lot of work somehow equaled mastery of that material.
Now, it seems we are headed in the right direction—quality over quantity.
But with this new journey, we must naturally consider assessment. How can we techies use our much-beloved technologies to assess student comprehension and success when it comes to standards-based learning? Does evaluating student mastery of skills and content mean written tests and quizzes? Can our students be more engaged in the evaluation process?
The past few weeks, I’ve spent a number of hours discussing which apps and websites teachers are using to evaluate their students and which ones seem to excite our “Generation Google” members. I simply had to share the most-popular app—Socrative!
Here are a few useful strategies for implementing the site into your courses:
- SINGLE QUESTION ACTIVITY: Try posting an essential question to the class in a Single Question Activity. Students will type their answers. Now, project these onto your board! Then, use the “voting” feature for students to select the best answer to the question. It’s a great self-evaluation tool for students (do they have different answers than their classmates) and will allow you to judge whether your entire class is meeting the expectations of your standards. I’ve seen this app used in calculus, English, and history, even in a faculty meeting, and I can imagine it being useful in any subject matter. Last week, for example, my students shared their thesis statements for an upcoming critical paper (anonymously), and then the class voted on the “best” thesis, according to the standards of the discipline. Afterwards, we critiqued each student’s statement individually. The following day, students posted new thesis statements; seeing the mastery of that standard was an eye-opening experience. I’d never had a class “get it” so quickly!
- EXIT TICKET: Use the exit ticket feature of Socrative to evaluate individual student comprehension and mastery of a concept in three minutes or less. It’s a great way to “take the temperature” of your class before a formative or summative assessment. The ticket is has two pre-loaded questions (What did you learn today? How well did you understand the material?) and one teacher’s choice (Solve the problem on the board). That third question is great for essential questions.
- QUIZ: Create a “quiz” that works as a rubric for your class to use while students give presentations. (Instead of a question, write your standard in the question box, and instead of possible answers, write your possible scores in the multiple-choice boxes. Including your standards as part of the rubric not only introduces the concept of mastering standards to your students but also fosters self-assessment. Students are able to evaluate their peers during their presentations, as are you!
- SINGLE QUESTION ACTIVITY: Ask students a question orally and have them answer in a true/false or multiple choice Single Question Activity—this is an easy way to poll the class.
- SPACE RACE: Create a “quiz” and run it as a game with Space Race. Students may work individually or in groups to answer the questions correctly. As they do so, small rockets (representing the groups) race across the screen! This is great for elementary or even for high school.
- QUIZ: Use Socrative to give an old-fashioned multiple choice or short answer quiz.
I’ve found that with many apps/sites it is sometimes difficult to collate the data and save it. So, imagine how excited I am that Socrative generates Excel spreadsheets for all activities listing students and their responses. The site also emails the spreadsheet upon ending of the activity—immediate data! In fact, if you use multiple choice or true false questions, the system will grade the responses for you and score your students’ work!
While teachers are always seeking a quick and trustworthy instrument with which to gage student mastery of their subject, we also want to rock our students’ socks off—Socrative can do just that!