google

GoogleClassroom

GoogleDrive has developed a new GoogleApp called “Classroom”. This app allows you to add your students into a class group on GoogleDrive. You are able to post Announcements and Assignments onto the Classroom homepage and student work is saved onto a folder in you GoogleDrive.

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Note: Australian DET teachers have a Gmail account using the start of their @det.nsw.edu.au email address with the new ending @education.nsw.gov.au (the same address as students). So your Gmail email will be firstname.lastname#No@education.nsw.gov.au

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Students join by logging in to their DET gmail account, opening “Classroom” from the GoogleApps and entering the class code for your class. For privacy I have blurred my class code.

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The neat thing about using this application is that you can assign and store all student work in the one place. Everything the class does on GoogleClassroom gets saved into the class folder on GoogleDrive where you can mark, comment or check the authorship of the work (check which group member contributed what).

So I would definitely recommend giving GoogleClassroom a try. If you have any questions about how I use GoogleClassroom you can comment below or ask me on Twitter.

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For the Love of Feedback

Every teacher with more than a weeks experience is brutally aware of how crucial formative assessment is to ensuring students are learning in your classroom. However in my first term as a teacher I felt like I was drowning under the weight of formative assessments that I had been generating in my classroom. So I began to ponder, how do great teachers stay on top of formative assessment? How can I assess my students frequently without generating hours of work for myself? (Hours that good teachers don’t have).

 

For assessment to concentrate on student growth the feedback needs to be given as immediately as possible. The further students are from the assessment, the less invested they are in the feedback. So after a week of careful contemplation, here are my top 5 fast feedback methods;

 

1. Technology assisted feedback

Use some quick warm up questions to be answered on a technology platform like Google forms which collect responses instantaneously (depending on your internet connection) and provide instant statistics. For Google forms student results and trends can be illustrated with the Add-on Flubaroo. I find this invaluable to identifying weaknesses and misconceptions at the beginning of the lesson before I try to build on a shaky foundation. I can adjust the lesson to address misconceptions before building on them.

 

2. Entry and exit slips

On technology or paper, entry and exit slips provide me snapshots into student understanding each lesson. Downside, there is a day delay unless done via technology. For differentiated instruction each entry or exit slip contains choices like a menu. The choices are colour coded based on their difficulty. Students are encouraged to attempt the red questions if they are feeling confident or if they keep getting the orange questions correct.

 

3. Eyes down thumbs up

A method of gauging student confidence about a topic. Thumbs up for “I get this”, sideways for “Im okay but I might need some help” and thumbs down for “I don’t get this yet”.

 

4. Think-pair-share

Students ponder an application question for several minutes before pairing up with a partner and refining their solution. After a suitable amount of time either pairs may pair into fours or the pairs may present their solution or part of their solution to the question to the class. Many variations of this technique exist. One of my classes is a “Performance class” and love applying their skills to summarising mathematical concepts or solving problems creatively.

5. Whiteboards

A tried yet proven method where students display answers on their mini whiteboards and holding them up to show the teacher. The simplicity of this form of assessment does not cheapen its effectiveness.

 

I encourage you to think about how you formatively assess your students. Have a try of some of the techniques above and let me know how they work for you. Also if you use any different techniques let me know! What are your top 5?

The Rite of Passage

Last thursday I underwent another one of the legal “rites of passage” of a new teacher by being observed by my school principal. Although an incredibly stressful situation it turned out to be a highly constructive affair. I received many words of encouragement and constructive criticism from an education veteran who is passionate about the future of education, particularly the role of technology in this future.

 

One specific encouragement she afforded me was the nature of my entry slips or warm ups. Inspired by the urgings of my twitter friends or “tweeps” I have developed a method of conducting these warm ups using technology, specifically Google forms.

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Photo from Keso S: bit.ly/googlelegopic

In a nut shell the students are linked to the google form or type in the bit.ly customised link into their task bar. Once there, students are prompted to enter their name and then answer a short number of questions based on foundational knowledge of the coming lesson or revision questions from the previous lesson.

 

I display the responses on the Interactive Whiteboard so students are encouraged by seeing their submission register on the screen. I personally adjust the width of the browser so the students answers remain hidden but their name displays. When students finish they pass their devices to students who forgot to bring/charge theirs.

 

After the submissions are in, I select “Add-ons – Flubaroo – Grade assessment” and select the answers I entered when I created the form. The add on “grades” the responses which shows instantly trends in answers and students which may need more help during the lesson. If they class under performs in a question sometimes I spend some time to revisit that concept before continuing with the lesson.

 

Give it a go! It will surprise you how quick and easy this is! Alternately, If I have spooked you with my wordy explanation stay posted for a pictorial or feel free to ask me.