This week, we are sharing our favourite formative assessment tools. Formative assessment is essentially how we are assessing students for what they know while they are learning it in an ongoing format. There are so many great EdTech tools available to provide feedback to your students while they are learning, so we are sharing our favourites for inspiration!
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Our favourite tools:
[00:01:02] Rachel: This week, Katie and I are talking about our favorite formative assessment tools. So as we're kind of getting started and starting our journey down this mastery based grading route formative tools are so, so important to us to be able to give that feedback to our students. So we wanna talk about some of our favorites here today.
[00:01:22] Katie: Yeah. So for those who are maybe newer to teaching or just getting into it or use different terminology, because let's be honest, the world of edu speak is complex. Formative assessment is essentially how we are assessing students for what they know while they're learning it. So it's kind of like that ongoing assessment.
So it's not necessarily for grades, et cetera.
[00:01:44] Rachel: Yeah, we have, we even have a lot of terms here in Ontario in, in our edu speak language. So sometimes formative assessment is also assessment for learning or assessment as learning. And honestly, I hate all of the different jargon. I mean, really it's about that ongoing. Feedback that dialogue between you and the student on how they can improve their learning.
And not only that, but also giving you then that important data to be able to then guide your teaching and guide some of the different instructional strategies that you might start using with that student, if they need help in certain areas.
[00:02:25] Katie: Yeah, so formative assessment can be as informal or as formal as you want it to be. Like, it can be as simple as an exit ticket at the end of class. Like, It doesn't have to be a big structured assessment, but what we thought we would do is share some of the different tools that we enjoy that can help you figure out what your students know.
So my first one is obviously, you know what I'm gonna say? I think
[00:02:51] Rachel: I know what you're gonna say.
[00:02:52] Katie: I'm gonna say Screencastify. because I love it. And so I, I like to have students record, you know, just a quick video or a clip. It could be with a slide and they could just tell me what they know. I'll have like a couple of different prompts um, maybe based on the lesson that we've just done. And then they can explain it or, tell me what they know.
[00:03:13] Rachel: I'm a big fan of Screencastify too. And I love it, especially when you need that visual component to go along with their audio explanation. I think using a screencasting tool like Screencastify is super helpful. And so maybe it's, it's not even that students are just submitting work to you for feedback, but they could have their work up there and then provide that explanation to you as well.
You could give them a reflection, prompts, and have them kind of reflect on their thinking as they were talking about their piece of work, or you could have it, even as ways of them like showing their problem solving steps. I do that a lot in chemistry.
[00:03:58] Katie: Mm-hmm.
[00:03:58] Rachel: So there's lots of ways that you can use Screencastify other than just recording, like an instructional video.
[00:04:05] Katie: yeah, totally for history. I like to do like an image. and it's an image in context of whatever we've been learning. And then they describe whatever comes to mind or what we've learned about this image or this, you know, point in history. And then that tends to give me a lot of information as to what they remember.
It may be perhaps what they're not so clear on and how I can then help support them to kind of get that next step in understanding.
[00:04:31] Rachel: Just listening to you talk about that then , you sparked an idea for me because you could take any concept in your course and have that visual, like, so it could be. Even a diagram that you've used in class before or something like that. And it almost then becomes a retrieval practice exercise.
So it's going along with some of the best practices in terms of the science of learning and how our brains work and, and how we learn new concepts. So that would be really cool as well.
[00:05:02] Katie: So, yeah. So any sort of screen casting tool, those are super helpful. Next what's yours. What's your top one.
[00:05:09] Rachel: So I think it kind of goes hand in hand with Screencastify, but my next one would be Mote.
[00:05:15] Katie: I like it. I like it. And how would you use it?
[00:05:18] Rachel: So Mote is for those of you that don't know, it's a way for you to record just audio for your students, for feedback, or for your students to record audio back to you as well. But the reason I would pick that one is because it integrates into all of the Google. Products, except for Google assignments.
I realized that on the weekend. And so I'm hoping it comes to Google assignments at some point, but there there's really kind of unique, fun ways to use Mote especially within Google. You can use it outside of Google too, but it, it integrates really, really nicely within Google. So you can do things like if you're leaving comments, if you have the Mote extension installed, you can click on the little Mote button and it gives you, I think if you have a paid account up to three minutes of recording time for a single Mote, and then your students will then get this like little card that they can go and play the audio back.
And so you can have that back and forth conversation with audio, which is really, really neat.
[00:06:25] Katie: Now would you do the conversation with students or would you have them do it together to kind of build on their understanding as like a group or pair project.
[00:06:34] Rachel: You could do either.
[00:06:35] Katie: I know I kind of like it
[00:06:37] Rachel: And so as we're recording this, we are, we are recording this a few weeks ahead, so it might be out of beta by the time this episode comes out, but they have a new feature in Mote that's specific for Google classroom and they're called feedback loops. And so what it does is.
When you're in an assignment in Google classroom, you, if you check off the little box that says enable loops, then you can leave feedback for your students. But then it asks them a question afterwards saying, I know what to do, or I need more help. Then they can click on one of those two and leave you feedback, you know, maybe asking questions for clarification and stuff.
And so, and then once they've done that, it, it actually pops up a cute little meme. So those are, you know, who doesn't love a good meme,
And so you can have that back and forth conversation and your students have like a nice way to be able to ask those questions. And you know, you, you essentially have a loop of feedback with your students.
[00:07:39] Katie: I like it.
[00:07:40] Rachel: If you wanna learn more about Mote I'm actually going to link their recent MoteCon conference that they did in August. There's two days worth of learning. There's some really great sessions. And I also did one on UN grading. So if you wanna check that out, you can.
[00:07:57] Katie: nice. Next up. I think my next one would be Google forms because it doesn't have to be complicated. It can be something as simple as a few questions in a Google form.
[00:08:09] Rachel: Yeah, I really like Google forms for formative assessment too. I, I used to a few years back when I was doing more like of a flipped classroom and hyper docs and all, all of that sort of stuff in my classroom. I would use a Google form with each lesson where I would embed the video that they needed to watch.
And then have a couple of formative kinds of questions afterwards, asking and checking for their understanding of what was in the video content. And you can even then create them as self marking so that students get that feedback right away.
[00:08:43] Katie: Yeah. So I think it's simple, but it really does the job well. And so don't underestimate something like Google forms.
[00:08:50] Rachel: Yeah. And they, they embed like everywhere too. So if you're using a Google sites, you can embed a Google form right on your site. I know we, we rant a lot about Brightspace, which is our learning management system. but what I do really like is that if you take a Google form and you put it into Brightspace, you, you set it up as a web link.
Like it, it will embed the form right on the page for you. And it looks quite nice as well. So it does have, I would say seamless integrations within learning management systems, which is super useful.
[00:09:25] Katie: So my next one, my students love, I hate putting them together, but my students love Kahoots. It blows my mind, how much they love them. And they're always begging for them. So I find them to be a good tool, especially if students are asking for it because it means they're excited about it. So a good Kahoot every once in a while is a great thing for formative assessment.
[00:09:46] Rachel: I think we've talked about it on the podcast before, but I do wanna bring it up again. Is that any of those kind of quizzing gaming kinds of apps? So Kahoots one Quizizz is a, another one that I really, really like cuz they have the meme feedback that goes through kind of reminds me of those feedback loops and mote.
And then uh, there's also Gimkit, is a lot of fun. There's there's, you know, you kind of gotta pay to get more features for that one. But with any of those sort of gaming apps, I think most of them anyway, will have a place where they'll be like, here's a spreadsheet template and you can download it. And then you can add all your questions in there and then just upload it back in there.
So, what I've done in the past is I've actually downloaded those spreadsheets cuz in our board, our students are not allowed to use Kahoot, like make accounts and stuff like that. But I still want them involved in creating the Kahoot. So I'll download the spreadsheet, I'll share it with my class and then they put all the questions and answers in there and then I'll upload it back into Kahoots and it saves me time.
And then it also gets their voice involved in the learning.
[00:11:01] Katie: Yeah. I used to do that with my Spanish classes all the time and cuz they also loved them. But yeah, no. So I like that feature. I like that. You can kind of say, okay, you wanna do a Kahoot? Let's build one as a class and go from there. Yeah. That I do like that feature. Yeah. So any of these quizzing or game style. tools are really great for formative assessment and I know. Kahoot has a whole bunch of different, not just your traditional, like live classroom game. They have also ones that students can work through at their own pace. So it's definitely worth checking out.
[00:11:34] Rachel: I try to vary which ones I'm using. Like I know they do really like Kahoot, will, I'll use a mixture of Kahoot and Quizizz and Gimkit. And there's also uh, Blookit, which I haven't tried too much, but I kind of wanna get into that for this school year.
So like there's lots of them to try, I would say. Maybe try varying them. You don't have to, but sometimes it gets kind of like boring when you always do a Kahoot and everybody's always doing a Kahoot.
[00:12:07] Katie: Nope. Agreed.
[00:12:08] Rachel: You know, one we haven't talked about yet. And, and it's really funny that we haven't talked about it yet, but Google just Google in general is so fantastic for formative assessment because it's built on that collaborative framework.
[00:12:24] Katie: Yeah. Even something as simple as a collaborative slide deck for your class, and each student can be responsible for one concept on a slide deck. Like that's, that's a great way of knowing what your students know and perhaps what they need help or extra support in.
[00:12:41] Rachel: I've done that a lot in the past. So there's so much problem solving in chemistry and students need a lot of practice with it. So. What I'll do is I'll give out problem sets for them to work through. But then I'll, I'll say, you know, pick one of these questions and go onto this collaborative slide deck, and then use something like Screencastify to show us what the solution would be and work through your solution.
And then you can also then have students go in and leave peer feedback for their peers. So you can build in that assessment as learning, right? The assessment for learning. So you can build in teacher feedback, you can build in peer feedback. So there's lots of great ways that you can bring everything together just with an activity like that. But I would say even things like Google docs and being able to leave comments, you know, It doesn't need to be super complicated in terms of leaving and being able to uh, give formative feedback.
[00:13:46] Katie: Yeah. It, it really doesn't it's, it can be very simple and easy and you know, something, that's not gonna take you a whole lot of time to build. Like the idea here is that we're just kind of checking in on students and, and these feedback loops that occur. And you wanna make your life as simple as possible, especially when it's crazy at school.
[00:14:07] Rachel: I'm even thinking like in Google docs, they now have the emoji
reaction. .And so even just leaving that one little emoji, that might mean a whole lot to a student, you know, it's, it's this visual piece of feedback that is telling your students sort of where they're at and maybe what they need to do next.
Like, I, I, I think even simple things like that are great.
[00:14:32] Katie: And it can be low tech. Like you could have them just write out quickly on a piece of paper. You know what I mean? Like it, it doesn't have to be a technology tool for the sake of technology it's it really can fit to the structure of your class and what you need.
[00:14:48] Rachel: Yeah, we, we are talking about tools, but there's lots of great ways to do formative assessment without tools.
[00:14:53] Katie: Yeah.
[00:14:54] Rachel: So for example, one thing that I really, really love doing in my classrooms, and I'm super lucky in that I have whiteboards everywhere in the classroom. I actually did that a few years back is I got a whole bunch of whiteboards ordered and we got them up everywhere.
So we can do vertical classroom, like thinking classroom types of activities, where I'm having students work in those small groups and work on problems up at the whiteboard. And then, you know, it's really easy for me to then see and go from group to group and be able to give feedback. Feedback is needed or prompts and asking questions and things like that.
But then you've also got feedback happening between groups, because if a group gets stuck, they might go look at another groups and then have that conversation with each other. So it, it really promotes this like natural collaboration, feedback driven kind of classroom environment.
[00:15:53] Katie: Yes. I like that. My classroom also has whiteboards and I kind of love it sometimes. I don't because the markers aren't always the best, but
[00:16:03] Rachel: yes, you need to, you need to be a little bit snobby about what markers you buy for your whiteboards or else it, it takes a while to get them clean.
[00:16:12] Katie: Yep.
[00:16:14] Rachel: yes, it is teacher problems. But if you wanted to simulate that with an assessment tool, you could use something like Google jam board.
[00:16:21] Katie: Yeah. Any digital whiteboard tool is awesome.
[00:16:24] Rachel: Yeah. So speaking of whiteboards, This is a new sort of thing is that Miro, which we haven't really talked about here on the podcast, but it is an online whiteboard brainstorming. Like there's so many different things that you can do in Miro it's being integrated now into Google meet and also into other places within Google as well.
And it's a really powerful kind of little whiteboard tool that you could use, especially in a virtual environment. But any of these whiteboarding tools, there's so many templates out there. We have a few on our website, so we'll find the link for some of those Google jam board templates and make sure we put it in the show notes, but you could then be getting feedback from all of your students, just on one sort of jam board where they're maybe typing something in a sticky note and posting it in, in a certain place on that jam board.
[00:17:18] Katie: Yep.
[00:17:19] Rachel: so Miro looks pretty neat. I haven't, I haven't honestly used it, but I think that there's a lot of really great potential there for, especially for formative assessment.
[00:17:30] Katie: Yeah, I've heard of it, but I haven't used it. So now that it's integrated with Meet, I wonder if it's worth giving that a try.
[00:17:36] Rachel: So one more tool that I, I really like for formative assessment is ed puzzle.
[00:17:43] Katie: Yeah.
[00:17:44] Rachel: And I think ed, puzzle's really nice because if you are making use of any kind of instructional videos or even just videos that you're providing as resources for your students to watch, then putting it into ed puzzle will give you the opportunity to add in those embedded questions that can then be used as checks for understanding.
And so it can give you a great platform to kind of track your student's progress. And also if you're using, for example, the open response questions, you can provide like a generic kind of feedback once they've submitted their response.
And so. Ed puzzle's a tool like that, but then you've also got uh, similar tools in Playposit I haven't used Playposit cuz I like ed puzzle quite a bit, but that is one that's very, very similar. And then you can also do embedded questions in Screencastify and you can also do embedded questions in near Nearpod.
[00:18:42] Katie: Yeah. So it all comes down to whatever you have access to like take a look at what your board or school is paying for and, and get to know those tools in particular, because that will save you a lot of time and money.
[00:18:53] Rachel: Yeah. And so then kind of speaking on, on that same term there, I just said Nearpod. And so any of those interactive presentation tools are also really great formative assessment tools
and a lot of them you can even put into self-pacing mode. So Nearpod's, one. I actually prefer Pear deck and I really, really love Pear Deck.
[00:19:16] Katie: I, I do as well. I wish we could use that one, but no, I, I first saw that one at one of the Google summits here in Ontario and it's so fun. It's interactive. It's great. It's a great way to kind of check on student learning.
[00:19:29] Rachel: Yeah. And so what you can do in those is you can add in all of these different interactive activities now Nearpod does have more activities than Pear Deck. It's just the interface. Like I'm just not a fan of building a Nearpod. And the other thing I'm not really a fan of is that they turned their Google slides add on, into a paid feature.
So you have to have a paid account to be able to do that easy integration between Google slides and Nearpod. So that kind of like really turned me off of that platform. Now with with Pear deck. Again, it is a bit more limited, but I think they've got the activities in there at least that you kind of need, and you can make, do with.
[00:20:14] Katie: Yeah,
[00:20:14] Rachel: So you can ask written response questions. You can do drawing prompts, you can do placing like markers on a picture. So there's, there's lots of, kind of really neat ways that you can use it and get a lot of really good assessment data from your students, even as you're presenting live. If that's what you're choosing to do in your classroom.
[00:20:37] Katie: Now, if you don't have access to that, like you can still use other tools to do something similar. Like you could have a separate jam board. That's set up with a QR code on that slide that you want them to do a check in, have them go and do that. Check in like you can integrate multiple tools into one formative assessment.
If you don't have access to some of these extra tools.
[00:20:58] Rachel: Now here's one more for you and this one's gonna make you sad, Katie.
[00:21:02] Katie: Ah,
[00:21:02] Rachel: Padlet
[00:21:03] Katie: I know it's, it's, I've, I've been using it in some of my uh, master's classes actually. And it makes me miss it so much. I love Padlet.
[00:21:13] Rachel: Yeah, there's just something about the way it's set up. Like it's so easy to use. It's an online bulletin board, so you can get the same kind of flavor in. Like you kind of can in jam board or Google slides, but it's just not the same. They have like little bulletin board activities in Nearpod.
So like, again, you could kind of do it in there. It's just not the same though. So Padlet, the reason I love it. And, the way that I use it in my classroom is I create. Usually activities. Like sometimes it's, if students are creating like a Screencastify or they're creating some sort of audio or something, or I just wanna pose a question to them, I set up a Padlet board and then they can all go on there and collaborate and share their links and write comments for each other and stuff like that.
And it just keeps it all nice and organized in one place.
[00:22:09] Katie: I was using it for digital word walls and it was perfect because you can integrate images. You can do typing, like it was. Awesome. And then we weren't allowed to use it. but honestly, it's a, it's a really great tool. So if you're allowed to use it, please do check it out. It's simple. It's, it's very student friendly powerful tool, very powerful tool.
[00:22:36] Rachel: When you said that, that reminded me. When I was teaching elearning courses, I used to have a Padlet and these embed really nice. Again, in any. Of your webpages. So whether you're using Google sites or using a learning management system, like Brightspace or canvas or something like that, you can get an embed code and you can embed them right.
In your learning management system. And then students can interact with them right in there. So I used to have one for just even what questions do you have? And like a Q and a kind of board and student. Interact with that more than they do with like the typical discussion post postings.
[00:23:16] Katie: Yep.
[00:23:16] Rachel: So I used to make a lot of use of those, and I love the idea of using Padlet for a word wall.
[00:23:21] Katie: Oh, it was great. And, and the great thing about it is that students don't have to have an account, which I think is awesome. So they don't need an account to interact on a Padlet. You, you, as the teacher can have the account and then have them anonymously contribute to it.
[00:23:37] Rachel: Yeah, no, I think that's, what's really nice.
One other one I've used in the past. And I haven't used it too much frequently, so it might have changed quite a bit. But is Plickers - have you heard of that before?
[00:23:49] Katie: I have. It's those cards and they have like the unique shape and then you can use your phone to scan and see, is that the right one?
[00:23:56] Rachel: Yeah, that's the right one. So it's a set of QR codes that you print out and it's unique for each student. So you can go in and put in all your students names, if you want. You can also to protect their privacy, right? Like maybe use code names or just like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And remember, you know, based on your class list, who's what number.
But then what students do is if you are, if you got a question up on the board, like a multiple choice, A, B, C, D, then students will hold up the card based on which answer they want. So they'll rotate it based on that. And then the teacher then has the plickers app on their phone or their iPad. And you just like go around the room and scan. So I I've played with it before and it is kind of fun and interesting. It's, it's nice because it's a way to incorporate technology, but keeping it low tech for the kids. It was, it was a little flaky in terms of scanning. Like it doesn't always pick 'em up when you go scan it. Once you have to scan a couple times so that I didn't really, really love about it.
But if you wanna collect that data really quickly, I think that's a fun tool
And not have to worry about everybody, like being able to log into their device.
[00:25:12] Katie: Yeah. And you don't have to worry about people not having devices, which is also kind of nice, cuz you can't assume that anymore. Not everybody has a device.
But it's funny cuz I haven't heard that word in a long time.
[00:25:23] Rachel: I know. Right.
[00:25:25] Katie: Yeah. Plickers bring them back.
[00:25:27] Rachel: So I think that kind of goes along with a bunch of those other tools where you're doing polls. So things like poll everywhere or the one that's really popular right now is mentimeter.
so what you can do is incorporate those. Multiple choice or written response kind of questions into say your presentations or whatever you're doing in the classroom.
And then students can go and enter in their answer live using one of these apps
And Mentimeter's kind of cool because they have a word cloud,
[00:26:02] Katie: Yeah, I
was gonna say, I think I used, Mentimeter with a group project recently and it was actually kind of neat. I, I, I did like it.
[00:26:11] Rachel: Now, if you want a word cloud and you wanna keep it like no cost, really easy to use, like more anonymous and not use Mentimeter, answer garden is a fun one.
[00:26:22] Katie: yep.
[00:26:22] Rachel: And I've used that quite a bit before I used it a lot during my, my masters. That's sort of where I learned about this tool, but it's, it's a really easy, quick way to create word clouds.
And you can keep it anonymous too.
Another, I guess it's not tool, but another way that you could really collect formative assessment data and have that conversation with your students quite a bit. And we have talked about it on the podcast before is using any kind of tools that support portfolio development. So things like Google sites would be one example.
And having students create portfolios that demonstrate their learning and growth over time.
[00:27:04] Katie: It, it could also be something as simple as each student having a Google drive folder that they share with you. So it can be as publicly posted or published or as not as you want it to be. I know that Brightspace has a digital portfolio that can also be used. But yeah, so it's just this idea of gathering examples of their work and things that they think really represent their progress.
And, and then they can do some, either video reflections, audio reflections anything really just to kind of explain their learning process and, and how they've improved.
[00:27:41] Rachel: We have podcast episodes that we've done all about portfolios. So what we'll do is we'll put that in the show notes link for you. If you wanted to dive a little bit deeper into portfolios and how you can use those with your students.
[00:27:55] Katie: And, and one last one that I love, but I know it takes a lot of time is interviews and conversations. They, they're not high tech by any means, but they're a great way to gauge how your students are doing with course content and learning in your classroom.
[00:28:09] Rachel: And I think you can take some of the tools that we talked about already in this episode and integrate them into that interviews and conferencing process to really, one help students prepare for that so that you're spending maybe a little bit less time having those conversations, cuz you've done some front work up ahead.
So you could, for example, have maybe a template that your students are using. One of the ones I really like is the evidence journal from human restoration project. And you can, you can then have your students prep for those interviews or conferences and maybe use Screencastify or Mote to record some of their thinking ahead of time so that you can maybe then just focus on certain things within that interview itself.
So you could do a little bit of asynchronous conversation along with synchronous conversations.
[00:29:05] Katie: yeah. And even podcasting come on.
[00:29:08] Rachel: Yes. Podcasting is fantastic too. I mean, we've, we've learned so much from our podcasting experience and it's such a great tool for reflection and for thinking about your, your thinking and, and really sort of diving deep into different topics. So yes, podcasting for
[00:29:29] Katie: also great for problem solving and I never realized this before, but since podcasting I've now discovered that for me to go through a problem and make sense of it. I actually have to talk about it out loud. So hence our podcast, that's part of what we do here. But students benefit from this too.
A lot of times, if they're given that opportunity to talk something through, they can actually make those connections and, and figure out, you know, what they need to.
[00:29:56] Rachel: They actually have that in the world of like coding and computer engineering and all, all that sort of stuff. As they have something called rubber ducking and I'm pointing at a rubber duck behind me because I have a little rubber duck, but essentially what computer programmers do is when they get stuck on their code or they're trying to debug something.
A lot of them have rubber ducks and they talk it out to their rubber duck. And by talking it out, out loud, it usually that helps you to solve your problem. And so, yeah, you're right. Like talking it out and talking your problems out is a really great way to problem solve. And so we've done a lot of that through podcasting and I agree.
It's it's so, so helpful.
[00:30:41] Katie: It's funny cuz now when I have to do these extremely academic papers where I feel like I'm not intelligent I actually hit record and I talk through my arguments. It's amazing how much that helps. And, and so even essay writing, you know, lab reports, et cetera, like give students an area in your classroom where they can like, you know, hit record, whether it's on their phone, on a computer, whatever the case may be and just talk themselves through it.
[00:31:11] Rachel: Yeah. So I think those are all of our, our kind of favorite tools that we like to use. Maybe some of them are, are also ones that we haven't used in a while, which is okay. But that gives you a lot of ideas of different ways that you can use technology to support formative assessment in your classroom. So, what we'll do is we'll include any of the links or resources we talked about here today in our show notes, you can access our show notes for this episode at edugals.com slash 1 0 1. That's EDU, G A L s.com/ 1 0 1.
[00:31:45] Katie: And if you like what you heard today, then feel free to share it with a colleague or a friend, and don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app so that you don't miss out on any future content.
[00:31:54] Rachel: And as always, we'd love to hear from you. So if you have some formative assessment tools that you really love, please share them on our flip. You can do that at EDU gals.com/flipgrid. Or you can go our website at edugals.com and leave us a written response there.
[00:32:12] Katie: Thanks for listening and see you next week.