Instructional Review of GoFormative

With the myriad of options available for digital assessment tools, teachers and other professionals can easily be overwhelmed.  Teachers are choosy (Molnar, 2017). What they seek is a versatile, quick, comprehensive suite of testing options that offer ease of access, use, sharing, display and data aggregation.  GoFormative is an excellent choice to meet these needs.

Formerly known as SmartestK12, GoFormative “is a web-based tool that allows teachers to create assignments, deliver them to students, receive results, and provide individualized feedback in real-time” (www.edsurge.com, 2018).  Using this free app, teachers can click on ready-made assignments and quizzes or create their own as they seek to engage their students, while assessing the development of student learning.  Assignments can be graded manually or automatically, with the option to leave guiding comments for individual students.

Formative is a valuable tool for teachers in a variety of settings, including the flipped classroom option.  Embed videos or texts within assignments for instruction and student reflection during non-meeting days, or assign a reflection piece regarding the content after a class meeting.  More creative assessments are available through Formative with the options to draw, speak or annotate responses. “Two-way communications…and group collaboration would add to Formative’s engagement factor” (Rogowski, 2018), while teachers follow class contributions, knowledge development, and note possible gaps.

SImilar to Kahoot and Socrative, Formative is more highly recommended in part because only a class code is needed (students do not have to have an account and students at younger ages are not allowed to anyway), plus it offers the option to show your work and use the library of mathematical figures easily.  The tool does not have built-in colorful displays and music in the way that Kahoot achieves popularity with students, but it does offer teachers a “cleverly designed…, flexible and attractive solution for [meeting] students where they are” (Rogowski, 2018).

Even though GoFormative works best in “banking education” settings (Behrens & Dicerbo, 2014)–meaning that the quiz options available in GoFormative generally have right and wrong answers–it is still a tool that could be used by creative teachers in a preferred “problem-posing” assignment style (Behrens & Dicerbo, 2014).  Features such as text annotation, graphing, audio response, and the whiteboard offer clever and research-based impetus to find more authentic, collaborative ways to assess student learning (Clark & Arvith, 2017).

Formative has other theoretical benefits. Because of its digital nature, it can be embedded into lessons naturally and avoid the obtrusive nature of other types of assessments.  This makes data more reliable since the environment within which assessment is happening does not stop for a test (Behrens & Dicerbo, 2014). With the option to view and share incoming answers, teachers can create a social environment for learning, also supported by constructivist educators and researchers such as Behrens & Dicerbo (2014).  

Using tools such as Formative, teachers can move toward a more transformational teaching stance.  “If our students are to succeed in this 21st Century world, it’s important that we transition from traditional, teacher-led educational practices to ones that effectively incorporate technology and focus on our students and their need for differentiated learning” (Clark & Arvith, 2017, p. 126).  Tech tools for assessment can help teaching be personalized–immediately! Students are given a voice–daily! They become more comfortable taking initiative for their learning, as lessons become more dynamic, “led by student questions, prior knowledge, curiosities, and needs” (Clark & Arvith, 2017, p. 126).  Features within Formative allow for this sort of interaction as teachers focus on the process of learning. In truth, “Formative is a teaching style, not just a type of assessment” (Jones, 2015).

Not only is Formative versatile and its use based on quality research, using it aligns with portions of ISTE Standard #3 for students:  Research and Information Fluency. This is where “students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information,…plan strategies to guide inquiry,…locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media,…evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks,…and process data and report results” (ISTE Standards Students, 2017).  Formative usage could encourage students to gather and share information, possibly strategize with a peer, synthesize information in an essay, organize concepts collected in the wordbank, graph findings, and print/share reports.

Most importantly, using Formative leads away from isolation and toward transfer of information, both goals of 21st Century learning (Behrens & Dicerbo, 2017).  Formative affords the student a chance to see and interact with the learning process of peers. As students come to understand that they have learned material, they are better able to transfer it in even more authentic assessment opportunities.  The tech tool itself does not create the learning; rather, it is the human element engaging with the tool (Daly, Pachler, Mor & Mellar, 2010). Those teachers who engage in classroom assessment understand that classroom assessment is “the most powerful type of measurement in education that influences student learning” (McMillan, J., 2013, p. 4).  Formative and other similar digital tools are logical choices in this endeavor.

 

References

 

Behrens, J. T., and Dicerbo, K. E. (2014).  Technological implications for assessment

ecosystems:  Opportunities for digital technology to advance assessment.  Teacher

College Record (116).  Columbia University:  Teachers College.

 

Clark, H., & Avrith, T. (2017). The Google Infused Classroom. Irving, CA: EdTech Team Press.

 

Daly, C., Pachler, N. More, Y, and Mellar, H. (2010).  Exploring formative e-assessment: using

case stories and design patterns.  Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(5),

619-636.

 

Educator Reviews (2018).  Retrieved July 8, 2018. https://www.edsurge.com/product-reviews/

formative

 

ISTE Standards Students.  Retrieved from https://www.iste.org, July 12, 2018.

 

Jones, C. (2015).   10 reasons why teachers use Formative.  Published April 28, 2015.

Retrieved July 8, 2018.  http://community.goformative.com/thoughts/2016/2/8/

10-reasons-why-teachers-use-formative-goformative.com

 

Molnar, M. (2017).  Formative assessments go digital:  Schools are expected to spend nearly

$1.6 billion this year on classroom assessment tools.  Education Week, 36(32), 28-31.

 

Rogowski, M. (2018).  Formative: Superb real-time assessment tool a fit for BYOD, 1-to-1.  

June 2018.  Retrieved July 8, 2018.  https://www.commonsense.org

Assess with Go Formative and love it!

Assess with Go Formative and love it!!

Formerly known as SmartestK12, GoFormative “is a web-based tool that allows teachers to create assignments, deliver them to students, receive results, and provide individualized feedback in real-time” (www.edsurge.com, 2018).  Using this free app, teachers can click on ready-made assignments and quizzes or create their own as they seek to engage their students, while assessing the development of student learning.  Assignments can be graded manually or automatically with the option to leave guiding comments for individual students.

Formative is a valuable tool for teachers in a variety of settings, including the flipped classroom option.  Embed videos or texts within assignments for instruction and student reflection during non-meeting days, or assign a reflection piece regarding the content after a class meeting.  More creative assessments are available through Formative with the options to draw, speak or annotate responses. “Two-way communications…and group collaboration would add to Formative’s engagement factor” (Rogowski, 2018), while teachers follow class contributions, knowledge development, and note possible gaps.

SImilar to Kahoot and Socrative, Formative is more highly recommended in part because only a class code is needed (students do not have to have an account (students at younger ages are not allowed to anyway), plus it offers the option to show your work and use the library of mathematical figures easily.  The tool does not have built-in colorful displays and music in the way that Kahoot achieves popularity with students, but it does offer teachers a “cleverly designed…, flexible and attractive solution for [meeting] students where they are” (Rogowski, 2018).

Assessment Tool Extraordinaire

When teachers use assessment, they are providing information to themselves that guides present and future instruction, and even makes possible more efficient teaching and more achievement in learning (Davis, 2015).  Implementing assessment strategies saves the work of guessing, of reading student body language or of the silence that follows the question, “Do you understand this?” and replaces it with accurate, helpful information.  Teachers understand this, and it has never been easier to accomplish these goals than it is now–with technology at hand (Davis, 2015).

A major player on the assessment stage is Google Forms, a free, versatile, easy-to-use suite of assessment tools that offers templates or allows for customization, provides various ways to test, analyze, and share information, all the while supporting the best learning strategies:  feedback, peer and self-assessment, collaboration, organization, reflection, planning, and communication (Mo, 2013).  

Besides an array of tools for quizzes, surveys, exams, training, feedback, and data collection, Google Forms provides for other school needs, including student management logs, documentation of professional development activities or student behaviors and teacher actions/responses, lesson planning, ePortfolios, and rubric creating, sharing, and scoring (Mo, 2013).  Google Forms “does not claim to be an all singing, all dancing assessment engine” (Bell, 2018), but reviewers on TradeRadius (2018) give it a strong score of 8.2 out of 10.  “It is an extremely versatile [tool] to help educators simplify and streamline class assessment” (Bell, 2018).

 

Bell, K. (2018).  4 ways to use Google keep for feedback and assessment.  EdTech Update.

April 8, 2018.  Retrieved June 5, 2018.  www.edtechupdate.com/classroom/google

 

Davis, V.  (2015). Fantastic, fast, formative assessment tools.  George Lucas Foundation.

January 15, 2015.  Retrieved: June 4, 2018.  www.edutopia.org/blog/5-fast-formative-

assessment-tools

 

Google Forms reviews.  (2018). TradeRadius. Retrieved June 5, 2018 from

www.traderadius.com/products/google-forms/reviews

 

Mo, M. (2013).  10 ways I use Google Forms in my tablet classroom.  Oxford University Press:

English Language Teaching Global Blog.  Dec. 11, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2018 from

oupeltglobalblog.com

Socratic — Homework Helper

Description:

Students have certainly discovered the opportunities afforded with Internet searches that might aid them in their homework needs.  A new app called Socratic is just six-months old but already tops the downloads from Apple’s App Store for education software.  What began as a resource for questions from middle and high school students in the content areas of science and history has developed into a wider resource.  Content areas now include English, economics and even some mathematics. Calculus is next to be conquered.

Creator Shreyans Bhansali (who used to work for Google) used artificial intelligence to teach Socratic to learn algebra.  The team at work behind the scenes “had to write an algorithm that could analyze a photo of a math problem and solve it” (Pullen, 2017).  Developers worked with teachers to provide explanations for the answers provided so students would understand how to get the answer.  The program “combines cutting-edge computer vision technologies, which read questions from images, with machine learning classifiers built using millions of sample homework questions, to accurately predict which concepts will help” (MacDonald, 2017) students solve their questions.  The step-by-step explanations that follow help students know the details about how the question is answered.

Students are able to visit Socratic.org on the Web or download a mobile app that allows them to take a picture of a homework item.  On the Web, students type in a question. Questions are given answers by the site, plus those who ask questions can also answer questions and earn points to advance in status on the program itself.  With the scan app, the program searches the Web and its own internal database for solutions. Parents can visit Socratic to help their child with homework topics that they may not have seen in many years and need to review.  Either way, Socratic is helping students get more homework done, and done correctly!

Analysis:     

For technology to gain respect in the educational world, it needs to be more than just clever, colorful, and creative.  It needs to align with the standards to which educators are held responsible. The educational website Socratic.org aligns with ISTE Standards 1, 2, and 3.  Standard 1, Learner, supports leveraging technology that improves student learning. When students attend to the explanations for the homework answers, their learning deepens.  Standard 2, Leader, supports student empowerment through technology. Since Socratic is an optional technology for students, they show empowerment when they engage in the experience of asking and learning.  And when they answer other students’ questions on the site, they are fulfilling Standard 3, to responsibly participate in the digital world (ISTE Standards, 2018).

Beyond aligning with the ISTE Standards for Educators, the program Socratic promotes thinking and reasoning skills, as supported in Bloom’s Taxonomy (Armstrong, 2018).   As a tool, Socratic utilizes four of the levels: knowledge, comprehension, application and analysis.  Students approach Socratic with a question about knowledge and in a matter of moments, acquire material for comprehension, which they then can apply to further homework problems.  As they work through the step-by-step explanations and apply it to their knowledge, they analyze and grow in their knowledge and academic abilities. With Socratic, this growth can happen quickly.  A teacher in a classroom cannot always meet individual needs at this pace.

Finally, Socratic promotes self-directed learning; in short, it motivates students.  According to Lehman and Conceicao (2014) technology “can make it possible to save time, travel, and cost” (p. 11).  Students need support to engage and advance in a class and when the affordances of technology make learning available everywhere and anytime, students are motivated.  Because they are in control, their self-efficacy grows (Lehman & Conceicao, 2014). With the help of Socratic, students can know that help is available when they need it, encouraging them to prepare better for classes

Critique:

Socratic is an innovative program that helps students get immediate help and explanations for troubling homework problems.  It also helps parents gain confidence that they, too, can assist their child when they need to review content to help. When used for appropriate purposes, Socratic is a positive asset for students and their parents.  Discussions may need to happen regarding inappropriate uses of the website. It is for the occasional struggle, not the ongoing assignments in full. It is for knowledge growth, not for plagiarism or cheating. It is somewhat social, which “helps solidify information in the brain in a very different (and sometimes more effective way) than working alone” (McQuillen. 2018).

Because Socratic is improved every day (Pullen, 2017), users benefit more from this technology option.  The resources from which it draws can be increased at will, as well. The affordances of such a broad connectivity multiply accordingly.  This is good for students who are using it of their own volition, but could Socratic be an option for teachers? It could, but only with some modification.  When students engage with Socratic, there is no record of how often they use it or what for. There is no proof that students are comprehending the explanations or are able to transfer that knowledge to similar problems.  The Socratic team could include a couple of new features. One could be supplementary problems that imitate the one involved in the question. Student knowledge would deepen as concepts are applied to more problems. Another feature could chart engagement of students which could be shared perhaps via email with instructors.  That way, students could learn and earn respectability from peers and teachers, show their increasing sophistication of skills and even perhaps receive extra credit!

References

Armstrong, P. (2018). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved May 20, 2018, from https://cft.vander

bilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

ISTE Standards for Educators. (2018). Retrieved May 18, 2018, from http://www.iste.org/

standards/for-educators

Lehman, R. M., & Conceicao, S. C. (2014). Motivating and Retaining Online Students (First

ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

MacDonald, C. (2017, January 21). The Ultimate Exam Cheat. Retrieved May 18, 2018, from

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4141968/Socratic-app-answer-questions-

Just-taking-picture.html.  Socratic.

McQuillen, G. (n.d.). Socratic – Scan Homework,Get Answers and Explanations. Retrieved May

20, 2018, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/socratic-scan-

homework-get-answers-and-explanations

Pullen, J. P. (2017, January 26). This iPhone App Can Do Your Kid’s Homework. Retrieved May

18, 2018, from http://time.com/4650119/socratic-app-homework-iphone/Socratic

Tools for secondary education majors

Tools for Secondary Education majors to consider

Because I teach General Secondary Methods in my college, I am always searching for tech tools (and the appropriate pedagogical frameworks to guide the incorporation of those tools) to teach to the mixture of preservice high school teachers in my class. With my background in Language Arts education, I am particularly interested in tools to engage, enhance and extend students in this area. Tools that work for Language Arts will apply across various subject areas, fortunately, so what I can present to my class will likely be useful to most of them.

Tools that address classroom learning overall include Socratic, Socrative and Quizlet. For Language Arts specifically, I know one English teacher in the Lincoln Public Schools that relies on NoRedInk (NRI) for her vocabulary and grammar usage training. Because I already know Quizlet, I will focus on Socratic and Socrative. Since I do not know NRI at all, I will include that tool in this collection of three tech options for secondary education majors to consider.

First, Socratic is a free tool that uses artificial intelligence and info from educational sites like Khan Academy and Crash course to offer explanations for homework problems, including videos and step-by-step instructions. It offers support material for subjects across the curriculum. Students can be taught to reach out to this resource before they reach out to teachers or even peers. In this way, students learn to take control of and responsibility for their learning.

Video games and digital literacy

Steinkuehler, C. (2015).  Video games and digital literacies.  Journal of Adolescent & Adult

Literacy, 54(1) (September 2010), 61-63.

Steinkuehler (2015) described a novel approach to studying the effect of video games on students and concluded that video games are “important literary practices” (63), much to the disagreement of parents and teachers who see video games as distasteful distractions.  Period.  Quite by accident, during her afterschool lab time created to study boys and gaming and the disconnect from school, Steinkuehler met “Julio.” Through that acquaintance, she learned that when a boy is allowed “to choose what to read, he [may] read four grades above his diagnosed reading level, not three grades below,” as was happening to Julio in his English class.  His English teacher decided he was troubling for her and sent him for testing in special education.  Steinkuehler concluded that the English classroom had become a female domain and that students were being forced to love only what the teacher loved —  a demand that Julio and others like him were not going to meet.

Even though the article offered no compromise with parents, teachers and especially English teachers, the point was well made that boys, in particular, may do well in school only when they have choice in their content.  Technology that could be used to engage boys and hopefully open the way to academic development should be encouraged.  Studies that highlighted just such a practice would be supportive of the stance taken in this article.

As an English teacher, I stand guilty as charged (by Steinkuehler, anyway).  I have given very few choices to students as to what they would prefer to read, considering that an option for their spare time.  The classroom curriculum was outlined for me and I complied.  I did not include video games or other more creative technology to engage disinterested boys, for example.  Looking back, I wish I had.  There were more unengaged boys in my classes than otherwise.  I knew they weren’t reading, and their grades reflected their choices.  The opportunity to reach them is lost now, but I can encourage my teacher candidates to be more open to how technology (namely video games, for the sake of this discussion) could enhance their future classroom curricula.

New Literacies for Digital Citizenship (Week 10)

Simsek, E., & Simsek, A. (2013). New Literacies for Digital Citizenship. Online Submission

Seeking to contrast old definitions of citizenship (and how technology did not guide it) with new definitions of citizenship (and how new forms of technology definitely play a significant role), authors Simsek and Simsek (2013) began by exploring various theories of technology in civic society.  The theory of autonomous technology claims that technology “evolves in its own course, regardless of outside factors….Technological determinism defends the idea that technological development itself has created social changes because technology has such a revolutionary power” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 127).  The political selection approach claims that “technology has been determined by political forces and capitalist needs” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 127).  A final emphasis, called the critical approach, is fully negative toward technology and society, positing that “technology hides reality by mass communication devices” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 128).

After this discussion, the authors explored the various literacies of modern culture– information literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, communication literacy, visual literacy, and technology literacy–stating that it is the civic duty of all in the modern day to manage all of these well and to participate in citizenship responsibilities that use all the modes of modern  technology.  Further, they expect that “in the new world of virtual technologies, digital citizens are expected to combine cognitive, affective, psycho-social, and technological skills.  The interaction of all of these skills produces an ideal digital citizen for the 21st century” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 131).  They admit, however, that having the technology will not guarantee participation and that “there is not an ideal world in which new media and democracy interact” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 134).

Authors Simsek and Simsek researched extensively to write this article, summarizing various other authors’ descriptions of the digital citizenship opportunities apparent in the 21st century.  The several paragraphs that explain the various positions move quickly with brief descriptions and little interpretation or evaluation.  The idealist tone of the article surrounded the idea that responsible people must use technology well to participate in a global digital community and promote democracy through the new modes of technology available.  The enthusiasm of the authors culminated with the comment that “digital citizenship could create a more transparent, connected, and participatory democratic environment via its interactive, non-hierarchical, user friendly nature” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 132).

I expected the article to focus on the new technologies primarily, and upon citizenship secondarily.  Such was not the case.  There were two lists of tech options new to modern citizens and many paragraphs of theories and conceptual frameworks from those in the conversation.  The political tone was not motivating for this reader.  A follow-up article could certainly approach the topic from a more technological paradigm.