Paul's Place of Musings and Insights

the reflections of a techno-meddling teacher


Real time formative assessment

One of the things that I am always tinkering away at is how to monitor student progress in class. I am but one in a sea of young learners and regrettably, I am not always able to pick up misconceptions or uncertainty from students during class. They are of course detected during checking and marking of work, but I am eager to refine this process.

Courtesy of Alice Keeler I tried using Google Slides during lessons. My students have access to laptop trolleys, and during this lesson, we were lucky enough to be in a 1:1 environment. My class were researching biomes, and I wanted to be sure that all were finding sources that were accessible to them. So many resources online are geared towards older students, and it is vital for me that I know my Year 5s are able to understand what they are finding.

I created a Google Slide doc with a single slide stating a question. I then altered the Master Slides and custom built a slide for the students to fill out. There was space for their name, as well as for an answer to the question on the cover slide – ‘What is one interesting thing you have learned during this session’.

I shared the document through Edmodo, and within two minutes all students had submitted a response and I had been able to review them. I immediately turned my attention to the students that either took a while to respond, or whose responses were a little ‘vague’.

The students then carried on with their task, seemingly renewed in their purpose by what was in their eyes a very minor distraction, and if truth be told, probably a useful little brain break for them.

This will now become a regular feature of my teaching practice.


NAPLAN tomorrow!!!!!!

Said no one ever.

Yeah, not so much excitement at my end, I’m afraid. While I’ve got the inevitable opinion on NAPLAN and standardised testing in general (I’ve put some fun memes down below), I don’t want to soapbox (on this occasion), suffice it to say that my class and I are missing two Maths lessons, a Science lesson and an Inquiry session this week. And that means… well not much really. It’s not such a big deal given sports days, excursions et al that consistently push aside the ‘already overcrowded curriculum’ and add to the hidden curriculum that is so meaningful for students. Alongside things like life lessons learnt during schoolyard fights and social development and whatnot. The real parts of life that happen alongside formal education.

That’s what I’ve come to see NAPLAN as – an experience for the students. Like it or not, success in formal education means testing and ranking. If you do well in Year 12, you’ll get into uni and have options. Of course you can be extremely successful without a uni experience, it just gives you options. If that’s what you’re after.

We give our kids formative assessment before giving them summative ones – I see NAPLAN (in one way) as a formative experience for students, in preparation for the higher stakes tests, the ones that actually count, in high school. Sure they also provide valuable information to stakeholders about the standard achievement levels of students and schools, but we all know they are a snapshot, through a narrow lens, of just one part of the educational experience.

So with the talk around staff rooms this week on why NAPLAN is <insert opinion here> I like to think of it in a positive light and let my students enjoy the ride.

and just for fun…


Jumping up the ladder

So this post title is a play on my jumping back into both integrated ICT use in my room as well as blogging but also a play on the name of the tool I am using – Studyladder.

First about me – after a hectic year of ICT use in 2014 involving a new 1:1 iPad program at my school, I’ve taken a real step back from ICT integration this year, and gotten back to the basics of teaching. I won’t lie, there were students in my new class disappointed about this, with my reputation as the techie teacher preceding me, but I’m a firm believer in tech use not being tech-centric. That is, the tech should support the learning and if it doesn’t , it shouldn’t be used. I felt with the iPads last year there was a pressure to show that they were worthwhile and some of what I did pushed into the ‘using tech for its own sake’ field and that made me uncomfortable. So this year I have consciously tried to use ICT only if there is a clear advantage for the students in doing so. Its been a bit of a reset, really.

So this study ladder thing. I am using it as a basis for Mathematics homework. I can set modules for different students and monitor their performance in those modules. I can see how many times they have attempted their work, and how their results have changed through these attempts. It certainly fits my criteria of tech use as it allows functionality that would not be possible without it.

I have also started developing individual blogs for my students and through those will start delving back into more regular tech enhancement.

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