Monday, 26 November 2012

Assessment for Learning- Using Tech Tools

On Friday, November 23, I participated in a session with Kathleen Gregory, an educational consultant with the B.C. Ministry of Education on assessment for learning.  I was asked by our head of Program Support to attend the session to consider some ways that we can assess student learning using technological applications.  I thoroughly enjoyed the session, as Kathleen had some great practical suggestions for assessing student learning in order to best meet student needs by tweaking our instructional practice.  As I listened to Ms. Gregory, there were several ideas that popped into my head, which I'll share with you here:

Many teachers use portfolios to showcase student work and to have students self-assess their progress.  Kathleen suggested including pictures of students completing projects along with the caption, "There is more to this picture than you can see. We'd like you to know that..."  The students would then self-reflect on their learning during the project and write a reflection based on their thoughts.  Immediately, I thought of an online/iPad app that I just discovered called Foto Babble. Sign up for a free account online at Students can take a picture while they are working on a collaborative or individual project, upload them to their online account, and then record an audio take on the learning that has occurred during the course of their work. Photos can then be shared with parents.

Goal Setting
In her presentation, Kathleen also discussed goal-setting as a way of having students assess their own progress and take ownership for their learning.  She presented the idea of having students take an envelope with a goal, individual to the student, written on the outside.  The students would collect work samples or reflective writings and place them inside the envelope as documentation of their progress toward meeting their own goals.  Every once in a while, teachers call students aside for conferences to review what has been placed inside the envelopes.  I started thinking that the online and iPad application called Evernote would be an excellent electronic tool for having students self-assess.  The students could create a notebook, title it with the goal they have in mind, and as they progress, create individual notes to be placed inside the notebook. Students can take photos of the physical work they've created as they progress through a concept and attach an audio recording of what they have done to work towards that goal. Everything would be securely stored in their notebooks, allowing the student to work on several goals at once and organize their information in the appropriate notebooks.

Increased Student Participation
Teachers easily assess student understanding through oral discussion and participation in class, but for those students who don't readily offer their suggestions and input in class, there may be an app for that! Poll Everywhere and Go SoapBox are two online applications that teachers can use to increase student progress and get immediate feedback on concepts that may be confusing students. These online applications would be great in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) setting.  Teachers can set up an account, pose questions, create quizzes, and solicit immediate feedback on student understanding.  Students would use their smart phones or iPads to ask questions and respond to teacher-posed inquiries.  Amazing engagement possibilities.  Go SoapBox even offers security features that exclude profanity from responses.

Mind Maps
One of my favourite ideas that Kathleen presented had to do with mind maps.  She suggested using mindmaps as a sort of KWL.  At the start of the unit, the student would create a mindmap of what they know about a particular topic.  As they progress through a unit, they can add subtopics and information onto the mindmap, changing the colour to reflect the new information and ideas that the student has learned in class.  Using an application like Prezi or Popplet would be a create way of webbing student learning.

Another interesting self-assessment suggestion that Kathleen offered was the idea of having students video record themselves while presenting and then afterwards, completing a self-assessment checklist to determine whether or not they have met the criteria outlined at the start of creating the presentation.  Kathleen stressed throughout her presentation that student-generated criteria is definitely a way to involve students in the assessment process, so determining what the criterion are for a good oral book report before the students present would be ideal. She suggested using a Flip Camera to record presentations, but the iPad video camera could also be used.

These are a few ways to help students assess their own learning. I'll add more in another post!

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