Assessment has been one of those things that I feel I can always do better for my students. I often feel the shadow of report cards looming behind me and expectations to meet the demands of reporting periods. Sadly, this is often the driving force behind assessment, and I don’t think I am the only teacher who feels this way. The stress in our building always rises as the date on the calendar draws closer.
But as we all know, assessment is much more than a report card three times a year. According to Edutopia (2008), effective assessments:
“…give students feedback on how well they understand the information and on what they need to improve, while helping teachers better design instruction. Assessment becomes even more relevant when students become involved in their own assessment. Students taking an active role in developing the scoring criteria, self-evaluation, and goal setting, more readily accept that the assessment is adequately measuring their learning.”
When assessment is done well, it should motivate students to take charge of their learning, provide teachers and students with information about where students are at and where they need to go, be relevant, and, yes, evaluate progress. It is a cycle with a lot of back and forth in order to help our students meet their goals and be successful learners. A large part of the assessment cycle is, and should be formative assessment. Scholastic states formative assessments “…serve as practice for students…check for understanding along the way and guide teacher decision making about future instruction; they also provide feedback to students so they can improve their performance…Formative assessments help us differentiate instruction and thus improve student achievement.” They are quick types of assessments that help us and the students identify gaps in understanding and inform or our teaching.
Typically, formative assessments consisted of pen and paper exit slips, hand raising, diagonistic tests, worksheets, and quizzes. But that is changing as we move into a virtual world of teaching. Nora Flemming (2020) states, “pen-and-paper pop quizzes are no more: thumbs-up/thumbs-down, hand signals, online polls, discussion boards, and chat boxes have become the new mainstays of formative assessments in virtual classrooms.” Dalton, Matt, and Trevor gave us a glimpse into the many tools available to us beyond the pen-and-paper formative assessments. These online assessment tools make formative assessment accessible for teachers and students, provide immediate feedback, and can support the direction of teaching and learning in the moment.
This past week, I experimented with two of the tools shared with us – Quizziz and Formative. My class and I were first time users of both the tools, and we still consider ourselves amateurs. Here is our experience.
Quizziz has a similar format and features to Kahoot. You can create online quizzes for students to participate in through a live presentation or a self pace. Quizzes can include multiple choice, open-ended, fill-in-the-blank, and poll questions, providing lots of diversity in the types of questions that can be asked. Recently, they also added a slide feature where lessons can be created. This seems to follow and piggyback off Peardeck and Nearpod features and formats for presentations and lesson building.
I used Quizziz for a review of verbs based on a previous lesson we had. I wanted to do a quick check-in to see how much the students understood about the different types of verbs we learned about. Quizziz seemed to offer a quick check-in in order for me to determine whether or not they grasped the concepts taught. I decided to search the Quizziz library instead of creating my own quiz and found one that matched the lesson the students were given in the previous class. The students participated in a live quiz, and the room was very energetic, as students competed to see their name on the Leaderboard. All the students were engaged and even discussing their answers as they waited for the Leaderboard results. In between questions, we reviewed answers and discussed other examples.
Overall, I would deem our first time experience with Quizziz a success. They were even asking to play another round, so that has to say something. We have put Quizziz in our class toolbox of technology tools, and will be using it again in class.
Pros of Quizziz
- large library of quizzes and resouces to search and use
- reports – an extensive reports section for each quiz which provides information class wide and for individual students. These reports can be printed and even emailed to parents.
- diversity in the types of questions you can include on the quiz, including the creation of a meme collections as a type of quiz.
- live and self-paced participation options
- longer response time for students to answer questions
- quiz highlights
- quiz flashcards – quizzes have a flashcard option you can assign to students for review
- can see the question on individual laptops/computer
- can see individual accuracy and statistics at the end
- lots of categories of questions
- fun and engaging
- easy to join
I like that it shows you how many answers you got correct and that it tells you what place you are in.”
…you can see the questions on the laptop so you aren’t looking back and forth.”
I think the concept is pretty cool, and I like how you can see which questions you got wrong at the end”
- every student have access to a computer in order to use this tool
- during live presentations, some students still struggle with the timed responses – anxiousness, hitting responses too quickly
- the music – found it too suspenseful and serious
Kahoot seems happier…the music is bomb!”
Formative or Go Formative is an assessment tool that teachers can use to track student assessement in real-time. It provides a diverse range of assessment tools such as multiple choice, essay answers, short answers, and show your work questions, and a whiteboard option for students to write on. Teachers can upload content such as images, videos, and embed links to build assessments and assignments. They can even upload a PDF file and embed questions in the document for students to answer as they read. This is a tool every teacher should consider and add to their assessment repertoire. According to Tyne Brack, “what EdPuzzle is to instructional videos, Go Formative is to assessing students’ learning in real time.” This assessment tool provides teachers with immediate feedback which can direct instruction for a class, groups of students or individual students needing support.
To begin my experimentation with Formative, I created a quiz to see how much my students in my grade 8 Social Studies class knew about Canadian historical events. I used multiple choice and short answer questions and uploaded images as part of the quiz. I created a class and sent an invitation to my students, who accessed it through their school email. From there, they easily created accounts and accessed the quiz. Overall, I think the use of this tool was a hit with my students. They liked the format of the quiz and found it easy to follow and navigate. Even with my limited use, I can see how this tool can effectively provide students with feedback in the moment and assist in directing instruction and learning. Too often, students have a wait time for our feedback. Formative gives it to them in real-time, and I can see how this can encourage and motivate students to move forward in their learning. This is a tool I will continue to explore and use with my students.
- diversity in types of questions to ask students
- variety of content that can be added
- being able to view responses in real-time and after assessment is completed
- self-paced nature of the assessments
- the ability to give immediate feedback to students while they are completing the assessment through comments and grade
- extensive library of pre-made assessments
- teacher has a hands on role in the assessment
- simple and easy to follow format
- variety of answers they can give
- seeing all the questions on the assessment/assignment at one time
- no need for a code to access
- limited questions and content with the Free version. Paid version is $135 US
- audio tools are only included in the premium plan
- does not include the ability to annotate videos with questions for students to answer while they watch a video (a least not in the free version. Not sure about premium)
- students are not told if they got the answers write on multiple choice questions unless given immediate feedback by the teacher
- doesn’t correct spelling or grammar
I enjoyed using this…because there is more of a variety of answers”
…it is easy to use as well as easeir to get into because you don’t need a code or anything like that”
…you can see all the questions at once and it also provides pictures and maybe even videos.”
Quizziz and Formative are definitely two tools I will be exploring further as the year continues. A huge thanks to Matt, Trevor and Dalton for introducing them to me. However, I am approaching the use of these tools with some caution. We have been back in the classroom for almost 3 months. During this time, many of my students have been getting their headspace back into school after being away for almost 6 months. These first three months back, we have been spending endless amounts of energy and time to ensure the students are well versed in the Teams platform in preparation for possible changes throughout this school year. Some students have adjusted and flourished in the online formats and with the tools we have presented them with. Others are experiencing frustration, anxiousness, stress, and difficulties using them. And so, I take heed of Andrew Miller’s advice:
“…don’t go overboard… emphasizing that teachers should be careful not to overwhelm students with too many virtual assessments and too many new tools. Focus on two or three tools at most, he recommends, and be sure you always define a clear and differentiated purpose for using each. It’s also important to remember non-tech solutions, like the simple but invaluable one-to-one conversations that can yield information about students’ progress—and their well-being.“
Something to End With
While I was surfing the web for some information for this blog post, I came across a post by Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook. He wrote a post called “20 ways to use Formative for awesome assessment”, where he offers 20 great ways to use Formative in the classroom. Check it out! Teaching Art and Social Studies, I particularly liked the “Analyze a historic/current events photo or work of art” idea.