Last week I received an email from a colleague asking about an assessment tool that would allow for questions types that include more than multiple choice options. This colleague has been using Quizizz and has been quite happy with it. However, as a math teacher, she wants to have other options outside of the A-B-C-D options. I immediately referred her to Formative. Over the past year, I have shared a presentation created for the Digital Learning Competencies program that specifically met standard 4 - Data Tools and Assessment. The presentation "More Rare Than Gold: Platinum Tools for Data and Assessment" has been shared in many conferences and workshops with some outstanding educators. In this presentation, I discuss different criteria that I use for assessment and data tools. These criteria help to guide educators in making decisions about which tools to use. Before sharing the specific criteria I use, it is important to understand the reason that data is being collected. Educators must consider the following questions prior to selecting an assessment tool. Why is collecting this data important and how will it be used to make instructional decisions regarding student learning? Will the tool be used for formative or summative assessment or both? What types of data need to be collected?
Once the purpose of the data collection is determined, I then apply my criteria for selecting a tool.
With any data and assessment tool, it is important that the selected tool is one that the teacher is comfortable using. I have presented the criteria that I use in selecting these tools but encourage all educators to develop their own criteria that meets their needs. Also it is crucial that teachers use the collected data to make instructional decisions that ultimately benefits students and their learning. Why criteria do you use or considering when selecting a data and assessment tool? Share your thoughts below.
This past weekend, the PBS Regional Teachers Summit was held in New Bern. What a great experience it was! I had never been to New Bern. It was a gorgeous town and a phenomenal experience. The PBS Regional Teachers Summit was hosted by UNC TV, one of our state's greatest resources for helping students learn early literacy skills. My son grew up watching various PBS shows such as Thomas the Train, Dinosaur Train, and Nature Cat. These shows provided him a jump start with early literacy skills and a love of reading. I was "superhyped" to be asked to serve as a Digital Learning Competency (DLC) ambassador where I delivered two different sessions. The first session More Rare Than Gold: Platinum Assessment and Date Tools is a session that I developed last summer and have continued to offered periodically this year. I have enjoyed delivering this session and it was well received. However, what I looked forward to the most was delivering a new session, The Goosechase Is On: Motivating Students Through Scavenger Hunts. In this session, we used Goosechase Edu, a education version of Goosechase. Goosechase just released an educator's version last fall and it is my favorite tech tool. In it, participants complete various tasks or answer questions. The missions, as they are called, can be created individually. They can also be created from a mission bank as well. Earlier this fall, I worked with an ELA teacher who really took this tool to new heights. At the beginning of the year, she used it as a team building experience. Later on though, she expanded to use it as tool to get students to work collaboratively in exploring various topics in a novel. She created the Goosechase so that teams had to work together to be successful. One of the most interesting things that I observed involved seeing students that are typically not motivated to read, all of a sudden become very interested in the novel due to the Goosechase tool being used. These are students that I have observed doing only the minimum were all of a sudden fully engaged and doing more than I would have ever guessed. It was amazing. Based on this experience, I knew that I had to create a session to share Goosechase with more educators due to its amazing potential. I decided that we would explore the 4Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity) by using Goosechase. Inspired by the ELA teacher at my school, I decided to use Peter Reynolds' book Happy Dreamer. I presented the session twice. The first session was packed with standing room only. I was excited but also felt overwhelmed. Once we got the session started with individuals creating their log in credentials and downloading the app to their mobile device. we were off and running. I was truly amazed at how much the participants did and how much they shared. They were all engaged and learned together. Each group experienced the 4Cs and so much more. In doing so, I saw true innovation occur after ending the Goosechase. I asked the participants to think about how to use the tool in their classrooms and we got many amazing ideas. One educator mentioned having students show how to solve a math problem as a mission. I was astounding to get a math example. It is always challenging to find math examples. Several elementary teachers mentioned using it to help students demonstrated the various parts of a book such as locating the author and copyright date. Everyone remarked that they felt very creative due to the tasks presented. They also indicated that they had true collaboration and communication. Many remarked that critical thinking was actively integrated into the Goosechase. I was pleased to see so many extraordinary ideas flourish during the one hour session. I am still in awe at all that occurred. I hope to continue spreading the word about Goosechase. But more importantly, I want teachers to see it as tool to motivate all students to learn at high levels while meeting or exceeding curriculum goals. Check out some images from the session below. I want to send a special thank you to Jill Darrough with NC DPI for inviting me to share. I will be forever indebted to her for her continued encouragement and empowerment.
URL Link: https://animoto.com/play/1BAGYH029M8zjZy7pEjX4g
Today, I attended the Piedmont Digital Learning Conference hosted by Gaston County Schools. It was an awesome experience. The conference commenced with everyone walking the plank as we heard from Dave Burgess. Dave, the author of "Teach Like A Pirate," shared many value nuggets of wisdom during his keynote. Several things that he said really resonated with me. He encouraged us to "embrace the spirit of a pirate" by seeking unconventional ways to engage our students and not sticking to the status quo. He encouraged us to be passionate in our teaching. He boldly stated "If you cannot find passion in teaching, find a new job." This really hit home with me. It is imperative that educators convey passion in teaching. This will engage and capture the attention of students. I was particularly struck by his "LCL - life changing lesson." He encouraged teachers to go beyond and create meaningful learning experiences that students will remember for the rest of their lives. This is so true and just what I needed to hear again. We, as educators, must create memorable experiences that engage students using their five senses while capturing their attention. In doing so, we will create long lasting impacts on our students. I remember creating some dynamic learning experiences in chemistry in the past that truly transformed students lives. I have also taught some lessons that were probably less than engaging and frankly even bored me. To my students, I apologize for that and thank them for hanging in there with me. But with the advent of so many digital tools and devices as well as many distractions, educators must be prepared to create learning experiences that will truly impact and inspire our students. Throughout the conference today, I thought about what he said as well as incorporated many of new ideas from the other presenters. One idea that I synthesized today and hope to explore involves having students attend a dinner party where they take the persona of various elements. For example, one student may be hydrogen and another student oxygen. If the students were to mingle at the dinner party, then they would have to understand the reactions (interactions) that could occur (such as the creation of water). And of course, there would be the Noble Gases who would not speak to anyone at the dinner party. And fluorine who would be trying to steal electrons from other elements and most likely responsible for the theft of any other items. I can't help but believe that this would lead to a higher level of understanding of element behavior and engage students more. Students would research their element and determine how the element would interact with other elements (this is chemistry for sure). This would be a creative way for students to role play (a key way to engage students) the properties of elements. Students would actively use the information they gathers to determine how to behave as the various elements. This would definitely beat out the static research paper or slide show that I have assigned in the past. Given the correct expectations for students, they could really enjoy this experience while learning so much more than if they did one of the "status quo" assignments. But there is a voice in the back of my head that says "What if you fail?" Dave shared that "failure is feedback." If failure is feedback, then even if this activity did not go as planned, I would have the opportunity to change it for the better. I can't wait to try this with students. As I reflect on the keynote, I can see many of the strategies and techniques that were shared effectively capturing the attention of students and leading to higher levels of engagement. If you have not had the opportunity to attend one of Dave's presentation, I would encourage you to do so. He is energetic, funny, and witty. But more importantly, he has a message that is worth hearing as it has the power to change the learning trajectory of students. So perhaps the pirate's life is for me after all. Also great job to Gaston County Schools on being a great host and a big thank you to NCDPI for providing "Digital Learning Incentives" grants.
Note: This blog originally appeared on my school blog at http://www.cgmstech.org/whitsons-blog.
The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.