3 Technology Based Assessments to Drive Instruction


Drop the pencils and papers, they’re not needed here. Assessment in the classroom is evolving, and there are new and exciting ways to track student understanding using interactive websites and apps.

Imagine this- displayed on your student’s computer or tablet is the question you developed to assess their learning. As you look down on your device you are seeing their answers as they are submitted in real-time. This is no longer just something you imagine, because here are the websites to make this a reality in your classroom. Below, I examine 3 online assessment tools that offer a variety of features to teachers and students.

Make sure you check out number 3 on the list… it is a HOOT!

1. Nearpod

Nearpod is an interactive presentation website that allows teachers to instruct and assess within the same presentation. Presentations are created or accessed in the Nearpod library, and are viewed by students on their devices in real-time or at their own pace. Slides can include media like videos, images, text, websites, PDF files, and audio as well as interactive features like open ended questions, fill in the blank, multiple choice, and drawing. As the teacher you are not only sharing lesson content with students, but also learning from their submissions via a visual report displays student participation, answers, and reflections.This data helps drive instruction and expose student understanding.

Students do not need to create a username to use Nearpod, as they access the quiz by entering the quizzes session code on nearpod.com. Nearpod is also available as an app.

2. Socrative

Socrative is an online website that allows teachers to create quizzes that include multiple choice, short answer, and true/false format questions as well as exit tickets and polls. There is no need for students to create an account. From their devices, all students have to do is enter the class code to access the current quiz being given by the teacher. Depending on the quiz settings, students answer questions in real-time or student paced and feedback can be provided for each answer. Like Nearpod, student answers are able to be seen by the teacher as they are submitted and a report is available as well. There is no library to use quizzes developed by others, however, you can import quizzes with a code provided by a quiz’s creator.

One of my students’ favorite quiz formats is called the “space race”. Students work either alone or in groups to complete the quiz. For every correct answer their space ship advances. The spaceship that moves the furthest in the shortest time “wins”. Since the space ships move with every correct answer, students love to look up at the SmartBoard to see where their spaceship is. LOTS of excitement with this format.

3. Kahoot!

On the topic of excitement, this site really nails it. From their devices students are provided with an access code to enter the quiz, and students do not need to create an account. Quizzes include multiple choice questions created by the teacher or from the Kahoot! library. The goal is to be the first person to answer the question on the screen correctly and with each submission students are given points for answering correctly and the speed of their correct submission. After time has elapsed for the question, the correct answer is shown along with the names of the students with the highest point values. While this is being displayed on the SmartBoard, student’s devices show them how many points they need to catch up to the person ahead of them. This way, students who are not displayed as a high scorer don’t know exactly what place they are in and continue to be motivated to reach that next person ahead of them. Student results are available to the teacher as a report that can be downloaded as a file or into Google Drive.

Each of these sites offers different features and benefits in regard to assessing students in the classroom. With each there is flexibility in device, as each can be accessed from computers, smartphones, and tablets.

What ideas do you have about using these websites and apps in your classroom? Please leave a comment.

Image Source: http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7256/7118787133_f8762b2516.jpg


Cloud Based Site to Organize and Share Links

Every think about how great it would be to access and share all of those great resources you have bookmarked on your computer… from anywhere?

Symbaloo is an online website and app that allows users to view, share, and access organized links on one easily accessible page. What makes it different from similar sites is its visual nature that makes it simple to navigate.

Using Symbaloo, users can organize important links on a page or “webmix”, which can then be further organized into categories by using color “markers”.  Each webmix has its own sharing link and embed code so it can be added to a website.

Here is an introduction to Symbaloo.

In addition to organizing your websites and links in one place, Symbaloo delivers benefits in the classroom.

1. Benefits to Students

Symbaloo is a great place to house links to class documents and it provides flexible viewing options (device, time, place). Furthermore, an entire project’s documents are easily included within a marker on a webmix.

For example, students in my health class created comics using ToonDoo to refuse peer pressure, and everything they needed to complete the project were under one Symbaloo marker. From the Symbaloo link they accessed:

When completing projects using Symbaloo students are using 21st century skills of information, media, and technology literacy.

Symbaloo is a great place to place for students to compile important resources of their own. By creating their own Symbaloo webmixes students are saving important resources for later use and organizing them so that they are easily found, thus practicing executive function skills.

2. Benefits to Colleagues

A benefit of being part of a professional learning network is the ability to share your knowledge while learning from your peers. Often, a disadvantage is that shared notes and photocopies are easily misplaced and the group may not meet regularly. With Symbaloo teachers are easily able to access many resources from one place and at anytime. Additionally, as new links are added the webmix is automatically updated.

Final thoughts…

Symbaloo provides so many great options in education. One improvement that could be made is ability to add multiple administrators to edit a single webmix. This would allow professional learning communities or student groups to collaborate in adding to the same webmix.

Have you used Symbaloo in your classroom? What are some of the ways you have or see yourself using this website? We’d love to hear… share your comment!



3 Sites Changing Classroom Videos

Who remembers watching “Bill Nye the Science Guy” or “Reading Rainbow” in school? Chances are… most of us do. These videos provided us with something that we were unable to get in the classroom itself- the ability to see some pretty awesome science experiments and have books read to us by celebrities. Experiences like those are what make videos in education so important. They allow us to, even if just briefly, be immersed in another time or place.

Now, as a teacher, I am excited about the different video options the internet has afforded us. YouTube has a video for just about anything, and educational video sites like Discovery Education link videos to lesson plans.

Additionally, there is a whole new crop of web 2.0 sites that allow us to customize videos and add interactive features. Below I discuss a few of them.

1. eduCanon

eduCanon allows users to edit videos and create interactivity. A user can crop a video, add multiple choice and open ended questions, comments, and set times for reflective pauses. eduCanon is easy to navigate for beginner users with bright colors and an easy to follow design. Videos can be uploaded from websites like YouTube and Teachertube, however, video files cannot be uploaded unless they are first posted to a site like YouTube. Students can view the video with access to the class code (limited number of classes allowed), or the video can be shared to Pinterest, Google +, Twitter, Facebook, emailed, or the link embedded. Users can create an unlimited number of interactive videos and have access to a library of videos. Additional features are available at an annual cost.

Sample eduCanon Lesson:


2. EDpuzzle

EDpuzzle, like eduCanon, allows users to edit videos and create interactivity. Users can search for videos directly from the site’s interface where many websites can be accessed including Teachertube, YouTube, and Khan Academy. When creating videos, EDpuzzle takes users through the editing process step by step. EDpuzzle offers similar question formats as eduCanon with the addition of short answer. Student’s answer submissions to questions are easily accessed and can be downloaded. This system allows voice recording and subtitles to be added to the video edits. Users can create an unlimited number of interactive videos with EDpuzzle and also have access to a video library. An unlimited number of students are able to join the teacher’s “class” and those in a class can be assigned videos. Videos can be shared via the link, by email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Edpuzzle Demo:

3. PowToon

PowToon brings together presentations and animated videos. Users create customized and animated slides that include everything from the animated characters, text effects, backgrounds, and timed transitions. Have an existing video you would like to include? No problem. You can upload videos, images, and audio into your PowToon. When you complete your animated masterpiece you can choose to show it as a slideshow or pre-timed video. Options for sharing include posting it to YouTube or sharing it on Facebook, Google+, and Linkedin. A paid “pro” membership gives you extra templates to choose from and the ability to save your creations as video files.

PowToon Demo:

The possibilities for these sites are endless. Teachers can easily use their custom videos in a flipped classroom setting, or can use these sites to have students construct their knowledge as they create. What’s great is that teachers and students have an endless supply of videos to customize, and more are being added everyday.

In what ways have you used any of these web 2.0 tools in your classroom? Are there other video websites or apps that you have found successful in the classroom?

3 Benefits of Technology in the Classroom


Technology integration is a buzzword in education right now- and has been for a few years. The way we live our lives is changing due to technology, and so is the way we are teaching. Here are a few benefits of technology use in the classroom.

Constructivist Learning

One benefit of using technology in the classroom is that it allows students to construct their own knowledge as they take problem solving into their own hands. Rather than being passive listeners, students are actively using their 21st century skills of accessing, evaluating, and applying information. Whether they are using tablets, computers, or cell phones students are learning to use these tools as consumers and producers of information. An important lifelong skill for many professions today.

Differentiated Learning

As educators, we know how individual the learning process can be for students. Technology provides students and teachers with more resources and tools to meet diverse needs. Using technology resources in the classroom also helps diverse learners succeed by providing multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement- helping teachers align their lessons with the principles of Universal Design for Learning.

Collaborative Learning

As we know, it is important to have strong communication and problem solving skills. There are many technology resources that provide students with the opportunity to learn and share online. Google Drive allows students to work on the same document simultaneously while chatting about ideas and feedback. The website epals.com connects classrooms around the country as they complete research projects together. Collaborative learning websites foster skills that help prepare students for college and career.

As we can see there are great benefits to using technology in the classroom. However, it is important to remember that technology is constantly evolving and changing. Thankfully, there are excellent resources available to teachers online including websites like edutopia.org and iste.org that provide information from researchers, teachers, and writers in the field of educational technology.