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eFeedback: ICT tools I use to give my students high-quality feedback

Using Evernote on an iPhone

Image courtesy of Heisenberg Media via Flickr.

Mohamed El-Ashiry takes a look at four online tools that have helped him deliver high-quality feedback to his students.

Upon introducing tablets into my classroom, the biggest gains I have received have been in assessment and feedback. In my experience, ICT tools facilitate the process of giving timely, relevant and effective feedback to my students. Brown & Bull (1997) argued that feedback is:

… most effective when it is timely, perceived as relevant, meaningful and encouraging, and offers suggestions for improvement that are within a student’s grasp.”

Black & William (1999) wrote that:

… improving learning through assessment depends on five, deceptively simple, key factors:

  • the provision of effective feedback to pupils;
  • the active involvement of pupils in their own learning;
  • adjusting teaching to take account of the results of assessment;
  • a recognition of the profound influence assessment has on the motivation ​and self-esteem of pupils, both of which are crucial influences on learning;
  • the need for pupils to be able to assess themselves and understand how to ​improve.”

I use a variety of ICT tools in my classroom, all of which the students can access from their tablets or mobile devices. I will introduce the four main tools I use and explain ways in which they have facilitated assessment and, more importantly, giving feedback in my classroom.

1. Socrative

Socrative is an immediate student-response system, where students access the teacher’s ‘room’ using the ‘room number’ and the teacher can push out multiple choice questions, true/false questions, or short-answer questions. The teacher can also assign full quizzes and exit tickets. I have found that when using Socrative, projecting my screen to the students makes it even more beneficial, as they can see the statistics and class responses that are shown on my screen. For example, when asking a short answer question, students can see all responses being submitted, which I then use as a basis for an evaluation exercise: students look at all submitted responses and vote on the best ones, whilst giving reasons why.

This is a very useful literacy-building exercise and I use it to show model answers and what makes a well-structured written response. This process enables me to give immediate feedback to the students, and actively involves them in the process.

My favorite feature of Socrative is definitely the ‘Exit Tickets’ though, as that gives me an immediate pulse-check of the class’s learning, which I can then immediately use to adjust my teaching for the next lesson.

2. Edmodo’s ‘Quiz’ feature

Edmodo is a class learning management system (LMS) that is designed for schools but still looks a lot like Facebook (which engages students more due to its familiarity). I have often created quizzes and polls on Edmodo. When using the ‘Quiz’ feature with my students, Edmodo allows you to show them the answer key once they have submitted their responses. Students also immediately get their score on the quiz. This automatically gives the students timely and relevant feedback, as the assessment has only just been concluded and is still fresh in their minds. I also project the statistics Edmodo compiles for me in front of the class, and we discuss those statistics to highlight strengths and areas for improvement.

3. Google forms (& Flubaroo)

I wrote before about how I use Google Forms in my classroom. I often use the “Flubaroo” script whenever I create a quiz or test using Google Forms. Flubaroo automatically grades the quiz once the students submit their responses, and can also email them their score, a copy of their responses, and the answer key. I then project the spreadsheet of the student responses in front of the class and we discuss the most well-constructed answers. This is another example of how an ICT tool such as Google Forms has enabled me to deliver timely and immediate feedback on my students’ assessments.

4. Evernote shared notebooks

I published a blog post before about how I use Evernote in my classroom. As I have a ‘Premium’ account with Evernote, I can create notebooks for my students that we can all edit and contribute to, even if the students only have a ‘Free’ account. I have benefited immensely from this feature, as I created a set of notebooks for my history class where the students would do all their work. I would then be able to add voice notes with my verbal feedback or even annotated rubrics/checklists for the assessments.

I have noticed that most of the talk about eLearning and tablets in classrooms revolves around engaging students more with learning and encouraging them to create multiple things. While these are very valid benefits of introducing ICT tools into the classroom, I personally believe the biggest benefit can come from how these ICT tools can facilitate the process of assessing student learning as well as delivering timely and meaningful feedback to the students on their learning.

References:

Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1999). Assessment for Learning: Beyond the Black Box, Assessment Reform Group, University of Cambridge, School of Education

Brown, G., Bull, J., & Pendlebury, M. (1997). Assessing student learning in higher education. London: Routledge.


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10 ways I use Google Forms in my tablet classroom

Google Drive in education

Image courtesy of TBR.

Mohamed El-Ashiry takes a look at ways of using Google Forms in the classroom.

I am one of Google Forms‘ biggest fans! I have many reasons to love the service, and I use it in many different ways.

While there have been many other advantages, the biggest advantage of using Google Forms in my classroom is being able to give students immediate feedback. I often connect my tablet to the projector, and hide the column displaying the names of students submitting their responses (whether they are responding to a test, or self-assessment or peer-assessment, etc.). The students like to see the spreadsheet being populated by all their submissions. We use this as an evaluation and feedback exercise after a test or quiz, for example: we look at each question and together agree on the most accurate and well-written responses. This is also a very useful literacy-building exercise because we look at the way the best answers are structured.

In my classroom, students have had tablets (iPads) for two years now. I started using Google Forms about 18 months ago, and I keep finding new ways of using it all the time. Here are ten ways I use Google Forms in my tablet classroom (including hyperlinks to examples of each):

1. Student self-assessment

Student self-assessment is a very powerful tool in any classroom. Tablets have also made that easier, since students can ask a classmate to record a video of them presenting something. After the presentation, the students watch themselves on video and then fill in a simple self-assessment checklist that I’ve prepared on Google Forms. In this situation, the biggest advantage of Google Forms is being able to see a summary of responses in a visual format (bar graphs). This gives me an indication of which specific skills I may need to focus on a bit more in the following classes. Sharing that visual summary of responses with the students also shows the things they may have in common in terms of which skills/techniques they need to develop further or improve upon.

2. Peer assessment

Peer-assessment also plays a critical role in any classroom. Students watch their assigned peer’s presentation while using a peer-assessment checklist that I’ve prepared on Google Forms. The visual ‘summary of responses’ can also be very useful in these situations. Students then conference with each other to share their feedback. Sometimes, I ask the students to take screenshots of the peer assessment checklist before they submit it, and email that screenshot to their peer.

3. Rubrics

In my classes, whenever I assign the students a major assessment task, I show them them the rubric that will be used to assess their work. I use Google Forms to create these rubrics, and while I am marking/grading the students’ work, I just tick the relevant boxes on the rubric. All student grades would then be compiled by Google Forms in a spreadsheet. A great idea I got from my PLN is to print the whole spreadsheet and cut it into strips, then just give each student the strip that shows their marks/grades.

4. Classroom management logs

Google Forms has been a great way of documenting student merit points and rewards for positive behaviour. At the beginning of the year, I created a ‘merit points log’ and a ‘behavior management log’ on Google Forms. Then I QR-coded the links to both forms, and stuck them right next to my teacher’s desk. At the end of every lesson, I quickly scan the code and input the merit points given to the students who earned them (I write them on a chart on the board during the lesson). Additionally, if there were any discipline issues, I use the behavior management log to record the type of behavior and how I responded to it. I can also share each spreadsheet with the relevant year-level coordinators as a way of keeping records of discipline issues inside my class.

Merit points log

Behaviour management log

5. Documenting PD

Teachers are required to maintain evidence of any professional development they undertake. Sometimes, this can be a hectic task. I started this year to collect all my PD on a Google Spreadsheet. Once a PD event was finished, I would scan the QR code to access the PD log I created on Google Forms. I would write the title of the activity, a brief description of it, a brief reflection on it, and the teaching standards it satisfies. All my PD is now compiled in that one spreadsheet.

PD log

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10 things ESL students can do with Evernote on their tablets

Tablet in handsMohamed El-Ashiry takes a look at how Evernote can be used in the classroom

Portfolio assessment in the ESL classroom offers many benefits. On the Prince George’s County Public Schools’ website, a portfolio is defined as ‘a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student’s efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas of the curriculum’. Brown & Hudson (1998) have also described portfolios as a ‘family of assessments’. Some of the benefits of using portfolios, as described by Brown & Hudson (1998) include: (1) focusing student attention on learning processes; and (2) increasing student involvement in the learning processes. I have always been a fan of such ‘alternatives in assessment‘ because of the fact that they focus a lot more on the ‘process of learning’ as opposed to the ‘product of learning’ (Brown & Hudson, 1998).

Now that iPads and tablets are spreading into many educational institutions, I believe it’s important to think about the ways these devices can facilitate assessment in the classroom. Evernote is a great platform for students to collect evidence of their learning, and to share that with their teacher/s, and their families. Here are some of the many things my students do with Evernote on their tablets:

  1. Write text: Writing is a very important productive skill in any language classroom. The most obvious thing students can do with Evernote is write text, and writing is used extensively in the ESL classroom: essays, reports, observations, answers to questions etc…
  2. Gather screenshots of work done on online forms/quizzes: I often use Google Forms to prepare short quizzes and tests for students. I also prepare Google Forms for self-assessment and peer-assessment checklists/rubrics. The great thing about iPads/tablets is that students can take screenshots. I always remind my students to keep screenshots of their filled-in forms before they click ‘Submit’, and this can be added as evidence to their Evernote portfolios. Continue reading