Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Most POWERFUL Formative Assessment Yet

Okay, to avoid a novel of a blog post - I am going to get straight to the goods today. This past week I attended the ICE conference. *Illinois Computing Educators* I love this conference for countless reasons that I could list right here or you could just take my word for it that this is the BEST professional development I have ever attended (4 years running). Not only is everyone insanely passionate about tech and teaching, everyone is tweeting and talking in the halls and lobbies - you can just soak up the positive energy and see education in a whole new light when you leave this conference. Professional development is happening EVERYWHERE, not just in the sessions you attend. Okay, okay - the formative assessment!

One of the sessions I attended was about 5 "free-mium" (free, BUT in order to get certain features... dish out the $$$) web based ways to formatively assess your students. I have been loving using Kahoot this year, but this was not on the menu. If you are a tech master go explore these five right now.

1. Geddit
2. Peardeck
3. Nearpod
4. Socrative
5. Google Forms

I had heard of these, but have not really fallen in love with any of them, until now. This earth shattering discovery of mine originates with Google and formative assessment with Google Forms. In my grad school class I have been learning about how we need to develop the "whole child" in order for students to be successful. We all know students may act out in class because of factors we are not in control of outside of school, but this method of formative assessment will give you an immense amount of insight into your student's lives, in a snap.

1. Create a Google Form - I had to play with this a lot to sort of figure it out. I created a form with some simple questions. The beautiful thing about Google Forms is you can use fill in the blank, multiple choice, scale questions, etc.

  • Hey Ms. Spethmann! It's ___________________
  • How are you feeling today? (Awesome it's Friday! - I'm doing okay - Not feelin' so hot - UGH!)
  • If you're not feeling awesome, what is bothering you? ______________________
  • How do you feel the SS test went yesterday? (I rocked it! - I think I did well - It was okay - I don't feel comfortable with how I did - Ms. Spethmann, HELP!)
  • What are your plans for the weekend? _____________________________
  • How do you feel about your Genius Hour project at the moment? (Loving it! - I think I'm getting there - No comment - Not so good, I need to step up my game - I am completely lost - Ms. Spethmann, come to my rescue!
Here is what the students see.

Once I completed this form, I turned it into a QR code to hang outside my classroom door with the super UN-FANCY, NON CLEVER, COULD BE WAY CATCHIER, title of....
That was anti-climactic wasn't it? I was just WAY too excited the get the ball rolling, there was not time to come up with a cute name! Next on the to-do list. 

The students grabbed an iPad on their own time during Daily 5 and took a couple minutes to fill out the form. From the form you get two documents. A spreadsheet of answers and a summary of your responses in a beautiful format (including graphs!)

 This AMAZING tool provided me with a ton of useful data by simply giving my students the platform to share. I found out SO much about their personal lives, they self assessed on their comfort with the SS test, I can plan the next steps for Genius Hour, and I got a glimpse into their weekends. It was like a mini conference with each student, but all at the same time!

I was BURSTING with excitement when the submitted forms started to roll in. I had used Google Forms for surveying staff for grad school or finding the best times to meet, but NEVER thought of using them in this way.

I have 3 girls who ALWAYS hug me at the end of every single day. On this Friday, instead of my canned "Have a great weekend!" I got to say, "Have a blast at the Bulls game tonight, eat some popcorn for me!" - "I can't wait to hear about the hotel birthday party on Monday!" - "Good luck on that Egypt project this weekend, I can't wait to see how awesome your Pyramids of Giza look!"

Teacher win, teacher win, teacher win.

Not to mention my heart melted when I started hearing, "Ms. Spethmann this is really cool! Can we do this every Friday?" - "Are we going to do this every week?!" - and a simple teary eyed "Thanks Ms. Spethmann," from a kiddo who is really struggling personally, but couldn't find the words to tell me how out loud.

All you extrovert teachers out there, let your introvert students rejoice! Now we really CAN read minds ;)