Friday, April 23, 2010

An Assessment Here, An Assessment There

This week in Capstone II, we have been focusing on formative and summative digital-age assessments.  Prior to my work in the Capstone experience, I had not really focused on assessing the students.  My role, in my eyes, was to help the teachers teach with the technology.  How they decided to assess the end results was up to them.  Through the work I have done with Capstone I and II, I have realized how I can also help teachers assess more effectively using technology.

Formative Assessments
Formative assessments are not necessarily graded or formal.  They can be as simple as a quick teacher check of a project's status or as detailed as a student quiz. The results can be student specific to guide teaching to specific students or groups of students, or the results can be general to the whole class.

1. SharePoint Surveys- I have used SharePoint surveys to gather information on a project's status.  This is a quick and easy way to get a feel for how the students perceive their project is progressing.  The survey can be composed on multiple choice, yes/no, and short answer questions.  I monitor and assist each group while they are working in the lab, but what I see may be different than what the group members feel is occurring.  These results can be downloaded into a spreadsheet very easily, and I use them to reflect on the day's activities and guide how I will address each group the next time I see them.

Another easy way to use surveys is to create a digital exit ticket.  In order to be sure the students were reaching the depth of knowledge in their research, at the end of each research session, each student completed an open-ended question survey that asked them to list five important pieces of information they learned during their research.  By getting specific feedback like this, I have been able to understand whether they were searching effectively and coming to the level of understanding they needed to reach.

2. Smart Response/TurningPoint systems- Both of these essentially work the same way.  The students use the remote "clickers" to answer multiple choice questions displayed by with multimedia projector.  Both programs have a handy export tool that displays results, complete with charts for each question, for each student, or for the class as a whole.  This is an easy way to gather baseline data at the beginning of a unit, or it can help to evaluate the general understanding level of a class in the middle of a lesson. 

3. PBL Checklists-- the 4teachers group has a wonderful tool called PBL checklists.  In order to effectively manage project-based learning, the site has a tool that helps to create checklists for students or teachers to use to ensure the projects are completed successfully.  The site has templates to start with that are editable, or you can create your own from scratch.  I have found that these are effective formative assessments to print out to have students use to review their projects.  They can easily identify any missing components.  I have used the checklists to talk to groups about specific issues they may be having completing the project.

Summative Assessments
Summative assessments evaluate the end result of a project or unit of learning.  It can come in many forms, but most people usually know these as an end of the unit test or final exam.  Instead of only using these kinds of summative assessments, project-based learning assignments can provide a thorough and broad understanding of a students concept development and content knowledge as well as a variety of other skills and objectives.  Glogster projects, podcasts, and other multimedia projects are great ways to assess, and in order to provide an objective review of the final product a great tool to use is a rubric.  While this seems fairly obvious, creating rubrics are not second nature.  I have been asked by several teachers for help in wording and layout, etc.  Luckily there is a great tool by the 4teachers group called Rubistar.  The site has templates with innumerable options for evaluation categories, so you are guided the entire way through the process.  Another great option is to search for rubrics that other people have created.  They provide great ideas, and you can download and edit them very easily.

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