Space Racing through assessments using Socrative

I was challenged to integrate a digital assessment tool into my classroom this week and talk about my experience in a variety of ways. Unfortunately I am without students for the rest of this week (conferences tomorrow, PD Thursday and Remembrance Day Friday) so I am going to discuss an experience I had just last week using Socrative. I have discussed Socrative in previous posts as I spent some time exploring it last year in another course. However, at the time I was off on maternity leave so I wasn’t able to integrate it into my classroom until this year.

Last week I had the perfect opportunity to use it as a method to review for an accounting midterm that was heavily based on concepts and terms involved in the class. I used Socrative to create two quizzes; one was a multiple choice quiz covering 30 terms and the other was a true/false quiz covering accounting concepts learned through the first half of the semester. I decided to use the quiz in 3 different ways.

Students engaged in the space race

Students engaged in the space race

I first used the true/false quiz as an independent assessment that was teacher paced. A teacher paced quiz is one in which I control when the next question appears. One benefit of the teacher paced method is you can display the answer and discuss it before moving on. It was a great way to see the areas where students may be misunderstanding concepts and address these misunderstandings. Being that it was a true/false quiz it displayed the percentage of students that selected true and those who selected false. It was a really good way to see immediate results and discuss concepts.

I then used the Space Race feature to divide the class into 4 teams that competed to win the race by answering the multiple choice questions discussing the terms. This feature was very interesting and has advantages and disadvantages.
– can select up to 20 teams; you can assign students to teams or have site create teams for you
– creates friendly competition
– students were very engaged
– students can see correct/incorrect responses

– students seemed to think it was based on the team to finish first which made them rush
– when teams were losing some students got upset and were discouraging their classmates
After noticing that many of my students were rushing through the answers and hearing some of their end results (12/30, 17/30 etc etc) I decided that I wanted students to redo the test independently as a student paced quiz.

The student paced quiz allows students to go about the questions at their own pace. You can select whether the correct answer is displayed after they submit the answer for each question so students get immediate feedback. They are able to go back and change their answers if they get them wrong, but the question will remain marked as incorrect on the teacher report so it doesn’t help the student earn a higher percent. From the teacher perspective I think this is a big plus for the tool.

Students generally thought the tool was a great way to review. Some students took it more seriously than others and it was quite obvious that that was the case for some students. This was really apparent for students who were giving fake names as opposed to their real names (ie. RIPHarambe, Harambe, Mickey Smith). Maybe these students were worried their results would be made public or that their classmates would see their responses, but that is another great feature of the tool, you can select whether names appear or not. If you want to be able to use the results with a purpose students must put their real name, otherwise there is no way you will be able to tell who answered what. After each quiz you can chose to show the results with or without names to the class. Regardless of whether you share the results with the class, reports are created for you to access at anytime.

Screenshot of report created by Socrative

Screenshot of report created by Socrative

As you can see from the results table, this is a great way to see which questions students are really struggling with. For example question 15 & 20 had very poor scores while #13 and #22 had great results. This is an easy way for me to see common mistakes within the class as a whole as well as individual students who are struggling. You can also see the buttons that allow me to see student names (which is off so names are represented as stars), as well as answers. If I turn the answers off all the data will be hidden until I turn the show answers button back on.

Overall I thought the experience with Socrative was beneficial to both myself and the students. I was using it as a tool to review information in a “fun” interactive way so I hadn’t planned on using the results for actual assessment purposes. Having used the site I can see the value in it and will be using it for more formative assessments in the future. I prefer this site to Kahoot because it seems a little more ‘professional’ or academic as compared to Kahoot. To me, Kahoot seems very game based and elementary so I didn’t find it suitable for my high school students and what I wanted this activity to be. I found it to be very easy to set up and user friendly for both the teacher and the students. For myself I don’t know that I would ever use this for a summative assessment only because students need phones or computers to complete the quizzes which opens up the doors for texting/chatting or searching for answers while the assessment is being completed. The biggest disadvantage is the access to technology. I have 22 students in my class and 10 students needed to use a school laptop to participate in class. Depending on the socio-economic status and age of your students this may be the same case for your classes.

I highly recommend giving Socrative a try especially if you teach middle years or high school. If you want to check out my youtube channel I have a few tutorials that demonstrate how to set up a quiz, view reports and run the quizzes that you might find useful. There are a lot of tools out there that provide different forms of assessment, especially formative assessment. Whatever tool you choose remember to choose it wisely after giving the assessment purpose some thought.  Technology can change the way we assess making it more efficient and help us improve the learning environment.

What is your “go to” tool for online assessment? When and how do you use it? Do you think that we will eventually move away from pen & paper type assessments to more online forms of assessment?


The new tools of our trade?

I want to start by saying hats off to my peers, Amy, Krista, Luke, Elizabeth and Rochelle who presented on the topic of educational software and media. I have to admit that although I am familiar with a lot of different great software and media tools I don’t often integrate them into my classes (insert red embarrassed face here). I can’t say for sure why I haven’t integrated the tools in my classes yet, but a big part of it is the fact that I was out the classroom on mat leave all of last year, so having just been back to work for a month and a half I still feel as thought I’m adjusting to the new routine. When I’m talking about not using the tools, I guess I’m talking about tools like Kahoot, Socrative, Quizlet or Explain Everything. I do use other media in the classroom so I will talk about the tools I do use as well as touch on some of the tools I have spent some time exploring in hopes to integrate the into my classes in the future.

One of the tools I use is Edmodo. I enjoy using Edmodo for a variety of reasons. The first is because the interface is similar to Facebook and students so it’s easy to navigate and students feel the same way. One of the biggest benefits is the increased level of communication between students, parents and the teacher. I’ve made a screen cast of my Edmodo page that takes you through some of the features as well as discusses some of the pros and cons of using Edmodo.

I have some EAL students in my class and they spend time working with a language app called Duolingo. I was introduced to this last year when I used it to try and learn some Italian. It has a gaming feel to it and makes learning fun, but the quality of the learning isn’t the best. I used it a lot, but I wasn’t able to actually remember or recall much of the language when I wasn’t using the app or website. To get a feel for how the program works check out my screencast from when I did my post-assessment. During the video you will hear the chime when I respond correctly and a green banner appears. Duolingo is very stimulus-response based lending itself nicely to the behaviourism theory. When I played it was really motivating and the game like features kept making you come back. You can earn badges, points and your progress is tracked making it rewarding to play and learn. The downside to the app is that although there is a lot of repetition it doesn’t allow for deeper connections and learning. To truly learn a language I believe you must converse with people using the language and Duolingo doesn’t provide these types of interactions. Users may chat with others on a forum, but there is no opportunity to speak with others and practice.

Duolingo is a great tool for EAL learners to get additional practice as it is engaging and fun. In order for students to practice outside of the classroom, students need to have access to the website or app. This makes it difficult for students who don’t have access to technology to practice when they are not at school. As a mentioned above, the app itself is not enough for students to master a language, but it is helpful. Language Surfer provides a great list of ways to get the most out of Duolingo and most of them go beyond just playing “the game”. Students who use this need to go beyond the app by writing down new word they learn on paper, writing sentences that they struggle with, reading the hints given by the program and working with others to practice speaking the language they are learning.

Other tools that I have explored for past classes with Alec are Socrative and Explain Everything. Socrative allows you to create quizzes and use exit slips to assess student understanding. I don’t think I would use this tool for summative assessment purposes but I see it as a great tool to get some feedback of learning throughout the unit. Students need to have access to computers, tablets or phones in order to participate so it is difficult to use in a classroom like mine where some students don’t have a phone. I feel like getting computers for everyone would be a lot of hassle to complete a short exit slip or a quiz that will give me some feedback. It is much easier to do a paper exit slip and have students complete it…however not as fun. Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard app and I have thought about using it in my math classes. I see students using it to walk me through a question while they explain the steps they are using to solve the problem. I see it as an excellent tool to evaluate deeper understanding however it takes time for students to learn how to use the tool so that is something that would need to be considered before it is used in the classroom. You can check out my youtube channel to find the video tutorials I have created for both Socrative and Explain Everything. The videos will give you a better idea of how they work if you are wanting to learn more about them. A few classmates have included great reviews of Plickers and Seesaw; both tools seem beneficial in their own ways. Be sure to check out Plickers as reviewed by Liz and Seesaw as reviewed by Erin (great job guys!).

As I stated earlier, I tend to stay away from many of these question-response type tools because I don’t see a whole lot of value in them for the amount of time it takes to implement them. I do see it as a fun way to review and see the value in using these tools to differentiate the teaching methods. How often do you use these tools? Can you sell me on the value of these tools? I’m not saying I will never use them, but I don’t see myself using them on a regular basis…but maybe I should? Are these the new tools of our educational trade?

Major Project Update: Explain Everything

I have spent a lot of time really trying to understand the ins and outs of Explain Everything and let’s just say that I still haven’t got it all figured out. I have watched tutorials and tried to play around with the tools on the interactive whiteboard, but I have come to the realization that it’s a lot more complex than I thought it would be. Which has made me re-evaluate the usefulness of the app. I still think that I could make use of this to help students outside of school by working through a question on the whiteboard and recording it for them so they can see how to do a specific question. I may use it to record portions of lessons for my flipped classroom as well. I still wouldn’t recommend it to students because they can use free apps such as Show Me and Educreations that are similar and look to be a little more user friendly.

I have yet to figure out how the ‘advanced’ editing tools work (which is maybe why they are considered advanced). I am not sure how to lock a PDF document into place or lock some items into place. I have used the lock feature but it never seems to work the way I want it to. Like I said before I have watched tutorials to try figure it out and usually tutorials help me, but sadly it hasn’t for this app.

I was hoping to be able to create some videos showing how I could use it in class, but I won’t be able to show a lot of the features. It will be a very basic video, but if that’s all I will be using it for is basic features then I guess that’s alright too. I have been struggling with how to create tutorials for this because it is only available on an iPad and I cannot screen capture my iPad screen. I have made one tutorial using screenshots and I think it does the trick but it would be nice to be able to capture the screen while I’m using the tools to make a video so you can see exactly how it works. I found out that I can airplay the screen through my apple tv onto my tv but I would then I have to record my tv screen and I’m not sure how to accomplish that either.

To sum all this up I guess what I am trying to say is that I am a little disappointed with how my Explain Everything review will turn out on my weebly page. I haven’t been able to learn as much as I would have liked to learn from the app because I have had extreme difficult learning the ins and outs. I have realized that it’s not as useful as I had hoped which is another disappointment. I apologize for the mediocre review but I did my best with what I took away from the app.

Major Project Update: Socrative

I am happy to say that my final project is nearing completion. Okay maybe that’s being too optimistic, but it really is coming along nicely. I have spent this past week really looking into Socrative. I must say that I cannot wait to get back into the classroom to test this out with my students. The app is extremely user friendly and I can see so many uses for it in the classroom.

I recently came across this resource explaining 3 ways that open response questions can be used in the classroom with Socrative. I am a really big fan of gathering student questions using the quick response option. It would be an easy way for students to ask questions from their homework that they need help with. Once students respond with questions they are struggling with, students can look at all of the options and vote on the questions they want answered so that it prioritizes them for me allowing me to answer the question most students have. I really like the voting option for the quick response short answer questions.

I also like the idea of using the quick response short answer questions for brainstorming in class. It is a great way for students to get involved and provide answers as opposed to just shouting answers out. I like that you can have student names be anonymous so that they don’t have to be scared of sharing their answers. Names will appear for the teacher when you run a report so you can see who submitted each response.

I have been busy making tutorials for Socrative today and have a few more to go before I am done. I haven’t started my Explain Everything tutorials yet, but I don’t feel like they will be as in depth and hopefully won’t take me as long. I still have some Evernote tutorials as well. Hoping I can get things done within the next week so I can focus on my summary of learning.

Major Project Update

I took a break from my major project this past week as I was visiting family in Vancouver and had a hard enough time reading the articles and making sure I was available to connect in class this past Monday. Since being home I have had a opportunity to look at my progress again and reevaluate where I am at and where I need to be. Here is where I am at with exploring each of my apps.

Evernote – Done exploring the app as well as looking into ways it can be used in the classroom by both me and the students. I have also finished looking over and summarizing the terms of service and privacy policy. My look at ‘the medium is the message’ is also completed. I have made some tutorials, but I need to finish the rest of my tutorials.

Explain Everything – I have spent some time playing around with the app and thing I have the ins and outs figured out. I have learned how to upload documents from Dropbox to the app so I can write right onto the documents. I have created some videos to test it out. I will be working on my tutorials this week by using screen shots of the app. I need to look at the privacy issues as well as the message for this app.

Socrative – I have spent some time creating quizzes and checking out the other feedback options. I was hoping that I would be able to create my own question using the exit slip option but it appears that the three questions offered are the only questions that can be used as exit slips. If I want to do a short answer exit slip I will have to create a one question quiz for students to use. I haven’t been able to explore the whole app yet and haven’t created a student account to see how it works from a student perspective.

If I had to give each app a percent based on completion I would say that Evernote is 95%, Explain Everything is 40% and Secretive is 20%. There is still a lot of work to be done which makes me a little nervous as there is only a few weeks left in class. I will really have to focus and get things done!

My project will be presented in the form of a weebly webpage. You can check out my progress by clicking here.