Sunday, August 23, 2015

Reading a Student's Mind with Free Instant Assessment Web 2.0 Tools

You are a fantastic teacher! You know that! And knowing that you also know the only thing lacking in your repertoire of super teaching skills is the lack of the superhuman power to read your students mind!
As the Technology Coordinator for Saint Ann School and during my professional development workshops, I often ask the wonderful teachers I meet. If you could imagine a technology that would make you be a teacher that you cannot be without it what would it be? One of the teachers I posed this question to said "I am not that tech savvy, but I think I heard that this type of technology exists. I want to know the impact of my lesson in real time! So I can adjust my lesson as I go and be a more effective teacher." Most often the answer I receive is akin to being able to read a student's mind and to be able to instantly assess if the lesson you are sending is actually being received in its entirety by each and every one of your students. In current time enabling the teacher to know if they need to refresh, reteach or move on to new concepts.
Typically with our current human powers we have to wait. A teacher may have to wait to find out your lessons' impact for several hours after you go over the student's seat work during your lunch break or prep time. A teacher may have to wait a whole day to take a look at the outcome of homework or even maybe weeks to see the results of an quiz or an exam. And, as a fantastic teacher, you know this is a time consuming process. The loss of time can be critical. It can cause the loss of teachable moments whether a student is delving into new concepts, consuming data or processing old material.   
There are many expensive tools that enable this power in a teacher, for example Student Response Systems. can cost from $600 to thousands and they vary widely and so not work well with each other. When my son was in college, he was required to buy or rent a different Student Response Clicker for at least three of his classes per semester. Schools have limited budgets and purchasing costly equipment can be prohibitive.  
I have found many tools that can produce the same results for free! These tools can be used on any device you happen to have in your possession. If you need a one to one student response system I suggest requesting donations from families of old smartphones that are wifi enabled to create a set of free student response clickers!
Some free Mind Reading Tools & uses I highly recommend are listed below. I have only chosen my favorite and I am sure there are many more.
Kahoot-is a FUN and engaging too and is very simple to use!  I know a middle school ILA teacher who also hands the responsibility to each student in turn making them create Kahoots to start the class or as reviews for exams.  There are two parts and two websites for Kahoot. Sign up and create Kahoots at https://getkahoot.com/   To join a Kahoot students go to https://kahoot.it and sign in with the game pin displayed on the Host Account Holder's Kahoot shown on the projector or webpage. They then choose a nickname and the teacher controls the game.
Socrative-Is a powerful free tool with reporting features that are extraordinary for a free tool. It is a must to visit the site and watch the demos and read about the many features available at http://www.socrative.com/ In order to use this tool the teacher can conviently sign up using their GAFE account or any other email and the students join the teacher room with a code.
NearPod-Like Powerpoint with Super Powers! Here is a quote to describe Nearpod taken directly from their website https://www.nearpod.com/how-it-works/ because I can't think of a way to say it better! "Bring the classroom to life with interactive mobile presentations
that teachers create and customize themselves."  
Nearpod has a free version and a paid version that offers more features and the benefit of connecting many teachers, whole schools and districts. Please read all about it on the Nearpod site as the features and benefits are too are too numerous to mention all of them here. https://www.nearpod.com/how-it-works/
Google Classroom-Last year was a boon for teachers whose schools currently use GAFE (Google Apps for Education) because Google launched its free Google Classroom App. This awesome app is so versatile and easy to use it can make a teacher feel truly superhuman!  Students join with a classroom code and in an instant the classroom a teacher can make announcements, send assignments, created drafts and save for later and even create timed assignments. Students can be  allowed to comment in "real time" or answer later to a question. Google keeps track of who has completed the assignment, allows for grading of the assignment, lets a teacher email a student , annotate directly on the assignment or give live comments like a chat! There is so much more. So if your school is NOT a GAFE school you should demand it as soon as possible!

As I stated these are my favorites. I am sure to write about more as I find them! I hope this made your life just a little bit easier!