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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Part 2 in our Paperless Series: Beyond the Bubble Sheet

Beyond the Bubble Sheet: 4 Tech-Tools to Evaluate Mastery

Assessment often feels like a bad word to us, between state testing, national testing and general bad feelings about ‘testing’ - assessment often gets a bad rap. Despite these feelings, assessment affects decisions about grades, advancement, instructional needs, curriculum, and, in some cases, funding. Assessment should inspire us to ask the hard questions: "Are students learning what they are supposed to be learning?" "Is there a way to teach the subject better, thereby promoting better learning?" Which is why it is important to evaluate the way in which we assess. Lucky for us, with the technology we have at our fingertips, assessments are better than ever.

There are two types of assessment we generally use in the classroom, formative and major. Today, we’ll be focusing on major assessment, beyond the bubble sheet.

AWARE: Many campuses and districts nationwide utilize the Eduphoria Platform. A big and often underutilized part of that platform is AWARE, a space for assessing student’s mastery by standards. While this is a more traditional method of testing (multiple choice generally) this gives us fast access to data breakdowns. Not only that, but it can definitely be argued that more of the testing in their future will be given online, not on paper, as they age and have to test for things like certifications. I personally like testing in Aware because I can clearly see how my students performance breaks down into the categories and standards. Not to mention, there are Chrome Apps and extensions that read the text out loud for those students who get read aloud! Even better in an inclusion setting!

Google Forms: Google Forms is a great way to assess student mastery, because there are so many ways to do it. Need to have them watch a quick video and assess it as a primary source? You can do that. Put in a piece of artwork or a primary source document and have them write an essay? You can do that too. Sure, you’ve got your traditional fill in the blank and multiple choice options, but there is so much you can do beyond that. Not only that, but to make quick adjustments for modified or accommodated versions is even easier. Plus, you get the benefit of that quick access to auto-graded data. Which is really nice. And, if you’re already using Google Classroom, then you can assign individualized versions of the assessment to individual students with ease.

Adobe Spark: Tired of trying to acquire posterboard from Amazon or Walmart, markers rolling around the floor, tiny shreds of newspaper and magazine clippings floating in the air that never seem to leave the classroom? Or worse yet, students who have no access to the sort of supplies that you need for poster-based projects? Say goodbye to that mess and enter into the world of Adobe Spark. A free platform from the creators of the Adobe Suite, Spark is a place where students can create beautiful and custom images, websites, and videos. It is incredibly easy to use, and is FREE. And I’m not just saying easy to use because I use tech and ‘get it’ - because I don’t. It literally will take less than an hour to figure out. Your students will figure it out very quickly. There are great videos that teach you how to utilize the tools available on Spark. It autosaves, it is what they will be using in the future, and it eliminates the need for many of those extraneous supplies that we are always short on (markers, glue, glitter paint, etc.). It also eliminates the excuses of “I left it in another class!” “I left it at home!” “My dog actually chewed it up!” “My baby sister decided to eat my poster!” for good.

Google Drawing: A large part of many subjects is the ability to evaluate an actual thing. Annotate the parts of a sentence, point out the incorrect grammar, label the parts of the body, breakdown the equation or the shape, annotate a primary source document like a picture or a declaration of independence. Google Drawing makes it possible for students to have that image in front of them, along with boxes inserted for annotating in. Just like any Google Doc, you can send out an editable copy to each student and have them annotate directly on the image. No more standing at the copier and wishing you actually had things in color. This takes care of that! And the evaluation from the students shows thorough thought processes in action - who could ask for more than that?

Contributor: Alyssa Stevenson

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