Recently a tech colleague passed along a great free online resource to use for formative assessment and classroom activities.  I’ve done little quiz games or review games in the past using online resources like Socrative, but this one has a new twist.  The website is called Kahoot.

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Kahoot reminded my students a lot of the quiz games played in restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings.  A question is displayed on the front board and each student selects an answer to that question from their personal device.  (I’ve had students use computers, IPads, Kindles or phones for this activity).  If you get the question correct, you get points.  If you answer faster, you get more points.  After each question, the student sees their ranking on a leaderboard.  It’s a lot of fun and provides great motivation for the students.

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Teachers can create “Kahoots” from getkahoot.com.  It gives you the option of creating quizzes, discussions or surveys.  Right now I’m only using the quizzes.  The teacher creates multiple choice quizzes and has the option of adding in pictures and video in the questions too.  After a Kahoot is made, you are ready to share it with the students.

The students just go to kahoot.it.  From there they will type in a pin code that is assigned to the Kahoot the teacher is running.  The quiz is teacher paced, meaning that the questions only appear when the teacher is ready.  Once ready, the teacher shows the students the question on the board.  After 5 seconds, answer choices also appear on the board.  Each answer choice is color coded.  On the student’s individual device, they see the color coded choices but no words—they have to look up at the board for the question and the answer choices.  They select the color associated with the choice they think is correct.  Once all students have answered, they find out how many points they earned (if any) and what their ranking is in the leaderboard.  At the end of playing a Kahoot, the teacher can download the results, which gives you question by question analysis of how students did and you can easily see questions that were the most problematic.

We loved using Kahoot and now I’m just under pressure to create more Kahoots for us to do in class!

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Content Creators

One great advantage technology gives to students it the ability to take ownership in learning and assessment through becoming content creators.  Students have exposure to many different tools that allow them to customize and create projects for assessment.

The positive thing about this is that students will individually produce their own unique work, revealing a personal style and understanding of the material.  Gone are the days of cookie-cutter projects and strict parameters.  This can also be a struggle for teachers, however.  Teachers receive several different interpretations and projects rather than one standard.

Here is the goal in adopting Student Content Creation:  Teachers set assignment parameters and expectations and access the students meeting those standards using any method they choose.

Here are some example methods my students have used in the past when giving “generic” assignment guidelines:

Essay (Written):  Never underestimate the power of the written word.  Some students prefer to organize their thoughts in essays.  It doesn’t include a lot of visual elements, traditionally, but if content is your main focus, it will work.

Essay (Video):  One assignment I had students do last year required them to do a five part essay addressing specific questions and observations they had following a movie we watched.  I gave them the option of doing a video essay:  recording their verbal answers by recording video of themselves in PhotoBooth.  It was much more informal than the traditional written essay but gave me a very personal account of each student’s understanding.

PowerPoint:  It does it’s job as a presentation tool, allows students to add pictures and make is attractive and easy to read.  Slides cleanly present material.

Prezi:  Think of Prezi as a non-linear, spread out PowerPoint.  Instead of having “slides”, all the material is attractively arranged on a plane.  The presenter tools let you order material, creating zooming effects.  Also easy to embed photos and video content.  It’s a website and a log-in is required.

Poster:  Sometimes a nicely designed poster is the best way to go.  It allows students to be artistic and posters can also be used in your classes in the future.

Blog Entry:  Having the students add their thoughts to an online blog is like doing an essay but it’s an essay they can share with the entire world.  Blogs can be informal places to share general, personal observations related to class, or you can use it as a place to upload and share assignments and project.  Check out our ongoing Spanish 2 Blog here.

Baseball Card:  This works particularly well with personalities.  Students create a baseball card of a figure: picture on one side, stats and important information on the back.

Fake Facebook:  This also works well with personalities.  Students create a Facebook profile, friends and correspondence embodying the character.  Download the PPT Template here Fake Facebook.pptx.

IMovie:  I-Movie can be an attractive way to put together information, to narrate pictures or explain a process though demonstration.

Glogster:  Glogster is an online program that allows students to create online posters.  These posters (or Glogs) include text, animation, sound, video and hyperlinks.  You have to have a an account to create a glog.  Check out this Glog on the Human Brain:  http://tehescmarts.edu.glogster.com/parts-of-the-brain/

VoiceThread:  VoiceThread is an online program where students record narrations with pictures.  It moves like a slideshow but can be very effective for comprehension activities, definitions and demonstrations.  See our comprehension activity with a movie we watched in class: http://voicethread.com/share/2433985/

Timeline:  Create a timeline using an online timeline creator like www.timetoast.com.  Timetoast allows students to include photos and extra descriptions.

Twitter Notes:  Students create a list or a shot of recent Tweets that correspond to a class topic or trending topic.

YouTube Playlist:  Students create a playlist of videos from YouTube that are related to a class topic.

Infographics:  Students create attractive InforGraphic of information using a variety of online sources.  Infographics bring together text and pictures in a way that pleasingly and easily conveys information.  Sites that help create Inforgraphics:  http://www.easel.ly, http://venngage.com and a complete list – – http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/infographic-tools/.

Problem Attic

The state of New York routinely gives high school regents exams.  Like our Iowa Assessments, I presume.  What if there was a place online that contained every exam and every individual question from these exams, categorized by each topic or concept?  And teachers could use those questions to build their own tests?

Welcome toProblem Attic!

Problem Attic has thousands of questions for Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts from the New York Regents Exam.  It’s more at the secondary level (def. not elementary).  Teachers use these questions to build their own exams and activities.

The first thing you do is create a blank document.  I decided to make a pretend test.  There are over 9,500 math questions.  Then I saw there were 22,000 science questions.  I was amazed by the inclusion of drawings and diagrams, so I picked some of them too.  I noticed that while most of the questions are multiple choice, some are essay, short answer type questions.  Makes for a nice variety.  The Language Arts sections are accompanied by reading passages and questions.

After picking all your questions, you can decide how you want to print.  They even include nice options like making each question a flashcard for activities or ACT test prep rather than just a standard test.

HIGHLY recommended that you check this out (especially for ACT Prep)

Race to the Top

Keeping students motivated at the end of the term can be a struggle.  In the final weeks of a semester, I would see that a large majority of my students knew that they had their grade “locked up” and just coasted through our semester review.  And I don’t completely blame them.  When you have maintained a high A all quarter, you feel pretty confident about your chances.  The students that acted the most motivated in those final days were the students concerned about their low grades.

So I introduced the Race to the Top Ten in my Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 courses.  I have multiple sections of each course, and at the end of the 2nd quarter and 4th quarter, I create a list of the Top Ten highest grades in the course and these students are exempt from the semester test.  I figure, if students are able to do that well all quarter, they have proved their competency on anything the semester test would assess.  It’s a little thank you gift to them for their hard work.  Throughout the quarter I update a Top Ten list and include a list of students that are “In the Hunt”.  In the final weeks of the quarter, I update the list daily so that students know if they should reasonably expect to take the semester test or not.  The list is finalized two days before the semester test.

This is the Spanish 1 Top Ten. This is with 2 days left to go, so it isn't finalized. The students in the hunt still have a chance.

Every time I have done this, it generates a huge amount of buzz and motivation for my top students.  As you can see by some of these Spanish 1 students, it isn’t enough for them to just do well in class, but they also want to do extra and go above and beyond expectations to earn extra credit and ensure their position in the Top Ten.  I have  some fantastic students that do well on all quizzes and tests but don’t push themselves to do anything extra.  The students that do challenge themselves to do more are rewarded, and I love to see them so energetic and motivated in the days before the end of the quarter.

And kids love competition of all kinds.  We had a test on Friday and after the test students were asking each other how they did and how many they think they missed.  If they are in the Top Ten or In the Hunt, they know that it could come down to missing one question on a quiz or test.  It’s like the playoffs; one mistake and you’re out.  For those that miss out on the Top Ten by a tenth of a percentage point it’s like losing by a three pointer at the buzzer.  It seems unfair and it hurts, but you played your best and you just have to be happy about it.

I have to finalize this year’s Top Ten lists by Tuesday, which means I have to be 100% on top of grading.  I guess it also creates a little motivation for the teacher too!

(My high school American History teacher Mr. Coffey used to do the Top Ten, so it isn’t an original idea.  I totally stole it from him, even though I was never lucky enough to rank in the top.)

*I do tell students at the beginning of the quarter that I will be posting their names and scores and if they are uncomfortable with that, they can come and see me and I will respect their privacy.  So far I have never had a student concern with privacy.

Make a Quiz on Google Docs

Google Docs is a program provided by Google that I have used in the past as a nice filing cabinet for documents. I used to always lose my thumb drive and I have learned to love uploading files to Google Docs.

Recently I stumbled across the Form feature in Google Docs, where you can produce a form and save it online. I had never thought about using a form as a quiz template but it appears as if this will be a great tool.

Using this feature, you can create questions in which a student has to input their individual answers (multiple formats, such as fill in the blank and multiple choice). Once the students have finished filling in the form/quiz and click “submit”, Google Docs transfers all of the information to a spreadsheet (on Google Docs) for you. Although this application does not correct any of the answers, it is a pretty handy, online way of having students answer questions and submitting them online. Be sure to include a mandatory question where the students have to type their name so that you know who did what 🙂

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