Exploring Digital Assessments: How Teachers Improve Learning Outcomes

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

EduForum 2018 at The American University in Cairo, New Cairo, Egypt

November 3, 2018

Assessment is the fuel of learning. Confronted with mountains of data, teachers can feel overwhelmed.  Particularly frustrating, some assessments interrupt instruction and distract students. In this session, we explore how to make the climb over the data mountain manageable. We will investigate effective practices to align assessments and learning outcomes through technology-driven formative assessment. Embedding assessment directly into learning activities can help teachers adjust instruction and engage students with their learning at the same time.  Learn how to create electronic exit tickets. Make a game your students will enjoy while making real-time use of feedback based on their progress through the game environment. Assessment need not be a tedious chore. Put learning assessment in service of engaging learning environments.

As part of today’s presentation on digital tools for formative assessment, we used Survey Monkey to conduct a pre-assessment of what we know about assessments.

Formative Assessment

Next, we used Edmodo to create a short portfolio with images. Next, we explored project-based learning using an online portfolio at Dreamdo. Here is an example:  https://edu.dream.do/en/dreams/sciences/the-5th-grade-geology-unit

Games are great learning tools, but they can be very useful for assessment, as well. Three online games and assessment tools we tried out were OLogy, Sim Scientist, and Kahoot!

The power of the teacher’s human voice coupled with images of a student’s own work were the focus of our exploration of screencasting.  Cambridge English videos showed us how to use screencapture and a free screencapture program, Jing,  were demonstrated.

Online tools make generating rubrics a snap. Check these out:

*Teachnology offers rubrics at: http://www.teach-nology.com/web_tools/rubrics/ but you’ll need to register.
*Rubistar, a project of ALTEC, has a useful rubric generator available at: http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php
*Google add-in by dostuffgood.org Create and send customizable rubrics and scores to students by email for any assignment. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/online-rubric/fiiglmgmcodoglllnbfebbhkfidikfbo?utm_source=permalink

Finally, we examined the role and possibilities of Big Data and educational assessment. Read more here and here.

800px-DARPA_Big_Data

 

 

 

 

 

Want to join our classroom? Navigate to classroom.google.com and enter the code in the image below. Some of the tasks have expired links, but you can see how the demonstration was set up.

Class Code

Learn more about EduForum 2018:

Link: http://eduforum-eg.com/index.php/sessions/exploring-assessments-how-teachers-improve-learning-outcomes/

Link: https://events.aucegypt.edu/?event=14151038

 

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Writing and Technology: Free Virtual Conference

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

The week of October 5 through 9, 2015, Turnitin is offering a free virtual conference on the topic of Writing and Technology: Exploring the Intersection as part of Student Success Week.  I will be one of the presenters, and perhaps I’ll see you in the webinar!

Writing and Technology

Student Success Week

There are several fascinating speakers, so register early. My session is

Writing and the Visual : Graphically Organizing Your Writing

Tuesday, October 6th 10:00am PST

And here is the abstract:

What if students could see how their writing is organized using graphics? It turns out that when they graphically organize their writing, students are more likely to write well, to compose their thoughts, and to try new approaches. In this session, Thomas DeVere Wolsey will discuss cutting-edge research on how visual organizers enhance writing and writing instruction.

Update: You can watch recorded sessions here: http://turnitin.com/en_us/resources/student-success-week

Zooming in on Vocabulary: Prezi and the Frayer Model

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey and Dana L. Grisham

Graphic organizers have helped many students grasp vocabulary for years. The most effective uses of graphic organizers require students to use vocabulary, often through engagement with text, peers, and teachers in multiple ways.  In other words, it won’t do for students to simply “complete” a graphic organizer. Rather, they must use the organizer to explore the concept or vocabulary term under consideration.

In this post, we share the tool Prezi as a digital home for the Frayer model of vocabulary learning. Prezi works like traditional slide deck programs, such as PowerPoint or Google Slides in some ways, but Prezi does not rely on linear presentation models. Rather, you can zoom in and out to different parts of the Prezi or follow a prescribed path. Prezi allows the creator or user to zoom from area to area by dragging or by following a pathway that may or may not be linear. The user can zoom in to closely examine one aspect of the show, or zoom out to obtain a broad overview.  This aspect of Prezi makes it a perfect digital tool for the Frayer model.

Click the images to be taken to the Prezi templates you can reuse in your own classroom.

Prezi Frayer Template

Prezi Template for Frayer Model

This version uses a picture as one element of the Frayer.

Frayer Picture Prezi

Prezi Template for Frayer with Picture

We have found that the strength of the Frayer model lies in its requirement that students explore “non examples” of the target term.  The Frayer is a simple graphic organizer with four quadrants and the word in the middle. It is similar to word maps and other vocabulary learning organizers. However, the Frayer asks students to dig more deeply into what they know and can discover about the term by examining critical attributes.  This is where non-examples come in to play.

A non-example must be more than just an opposite or something generic that a target word to be learned is not. That is to say, that if an astronomy target word is “eclipse” then the non-example cannot simply be “galaxy.” The two terms share a topic in common, but they do not share some attributes that lead to great depth of understanding. As students become increasingly familiar with the target word, they should also explore attributes of the term. Once they are familiar with the attributes of the target, they can identify non-examples that might be confused with the term because the non-examples might share some, but not all, of the target attributes.  Through discussion and exploration of internet resources, students come to a much deeper understanding of the concepts represented by the target word.

Using “eclipse” as a target word for Frayer, students might realize that the attributes of the concept of eclipse include one celestial body, such as a moon, passing in front of another, such as the Earth blocking light from reaching an observer. While celestial bodies pass in front of each other regularly, the key attribute of an eclipse is that light is blocked from the point of view of an observer.  A non-example of “eclipse” is “lunar orbit.” In a lunar orbit, the moon routinely passes in front of an observer on Earth, but only periodically does it also block the light from the sun.

In our work with vocabulary, we have found (see our article on Vocabulary Self-collection Strategy in The Reading Teacher) that a search for relevant images is a powerful way for students to make sense of the words they encounter. For this reason, we have changed one quadrant of the Prezi’d Frayer to include an image representing the target word. Finally, we suggest that students post links to their Frayer organizers on a class blog or other website.  Activities asking students to view and respond to each other’s Prezi’s further improve the possibility that students deeply learn the target words that are so important in many content areas.

We have made the two Prezi templates public and reusable. You can share these with your students to save as one of their own, or you can redesign our templates for your class needs.

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