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Are You Ready for a Tech Makeover?

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 4/30/2018

If you are like most of the teachers I know, you find yourself challenged to assess learning. Furthermore, today’s learners need assessment that goes beyond the evaluation of content knowledge and includes collaboration, creativity, problem solving, and the development of higher order thinking skills so students will be prepared for higher education and the world of work. Termed “authentic assessment,” this type of evaluation demands the development of learning environments that force students to plan, question, evaluate, collaborate, design, and develop projects/products that encourage them to apply prior learning and higher order thinking skills. Fortunately, thanks to technology, there are strategies for assessing learning that are fun, engaging, and challenging—strategies that will interest your students and are in line with today’s authentic assessment approach.

A little technology makeover may be all your classroom needs, and with the use of some free or inexpensive tech apps, you can spice up the learning in your classroom. While some of these apps require students to use an iPad, tablet, or laptop, others require only a cell phone. Expensive hardware clickers are NOT required. From remembering and understanding to applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating, here are a few tech renovations you might want to consider.

Remembering and Understanding

Warm-up and exit tickets allow teachers to quickly and easily measure prior learning as well assess what students have learned during a lesson. Although Post-it notes have long been used for this style of evaluation, technology offers some alternatives that “save trees” as well as allow you to save the activity for future use. Teachers are using Twitter (post a 280-character summary of what you know/learned); Google FormsPing PongPadlet, and Plickers as warm-up and exit tickets.

Polls are a quick way to assess student understanding as well as measure the success of your lesson. They are effective and fast-paced, requiring only five minutes or less of class time, and are sure to keep your students interested and engaged. Typically, they are anonymously graded and give students immediate feedback. Some can even be integrated seamlessly with PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Sides. Others can be embedded into a website, so if you’re using an LMS (learning management system) for your class, you can embed them there. Suggested apps for polling are:

Quick checks are one- or two-question quizzes that are used during class to measure student learning and understanding. Quick checks are a great way for a teacher to determine that the students have a clear and useful understanding of what has been taught. I recommend

Brainstorming and collaborative brainstorming using online mind-mapping software evaluates the effectiveness of your teaching and what individual students or the class as a whole has learned. This technique takes longer, but it is well worth the effort and time. Collaborative brainstorming as groups is not only an evaluation tool, but also encourages team work, discussion, and consensus. The end result is a product that can be a great study tool for students. Some suggested apps for brainstorming are:

Games, such as TV game shows like Jeopardy, board games like Battleship, and car or horse races, are tried-and-true strategies that can be effectively used to check for remembering and understanding. In my early days of teaching, this was only possible with pocket charts or folder games. Today, SMART Technologies and PowerPoint/app-developing teachers have created games that are fun, exciting, lively, challenging, and effective. Games like Mind-N-Mettle use high quality sound and graphics and can be played in a variety of settings and with the use of multiple languages. For access to more PowerPoint games and templates that you can imagine, I recommend visiting Pinterest.

Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating

For all other tech assessment tools, I depend on the Technology Padagogy Wheel that was developed by Allan Carrington and identifies educational apps that can be readily used by teachers every day. Carrington says, “The Padagogy Wheel is designed to help educators think—systematically, coherently, and with a view to long-term, big-picture outcomes—about how they use mobile apps in their teaching. The Padagogy Wheel is all about mindsets; it’s a way of thinking about digital-age education that meshes together concerns about mobile app features, learning transformation, motivation, cognitive development, and long-term learning objectives.”

Now, it’s time for your tech remake. So, go ahead, spice it up, and remodel a little. You and your students will enjoy even the smallest changes you make!

A Corpus Christi native and product of CCISD schools, Libbie Payne entered the teaching field in 1974. Currently, Mrs. Payne serves as the instructional technology specialist and CTE senior problems and solutions teacher, website administrator, and instructional technology chairperson at H.T. Branch Academy for Career and Technical Education. She was one of 30 T-TESS team members who developed the current teacher evaluation instrument. Mrs. Payne was also the 2012 Corpus Christi ISD and Region II Teacher of the Year and was an ATPE Educator of the Year finalist in 2014-15.

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