July 11th, 2016
The countdown is over for the launch of the new premium version of our classroom engagement app, Socrative! Users from around the world have already jumped on board to be the first to experience the new functionality.
Socrative PRO gives you everything you love about the free app plus a heap of awesome new features to help you personalize learning, amp up engagement, and work formative assessment magic. Thinking about upgrading? Here’s five reasons why you’ll love Socrative PRO.
Each Socrative PRO account allows you to have 10 unique activity rooms. Run quizzes, polls, exit tickets, or Space Races at the same time to better manage multiple classes, remote and blended learning, and differentiated instruction. Create a room for each of your classes, divide students into groups, or assign homework activities—or do it all!
Large class, PTA meeting, or district-wide training on the horizon? No problem. You can accommodate up to 150 students in Socrative PRO rooms. With three times the student capacity of the free app, Socrative PRO is perfect for conferences, professional development, and grade-level assessments.
Save time and energy by uploading class rosters straight from a CSV or Excel file into Socrative PRO (or enter rosters manually, if you’d prefer). Restrict access to your rostered classrooms by requiring students to enter their personal ID number. And students will save time; they’re only required to enter their ID once into rostered rooms for immediate and future access.
Space Race Timer
Set the timer to have your Space Race end automatically. You can then more freely move around the classroom to answer questions, listen to students, and interact with the class.
More Features Coming this Fall
We’ll be rolling out new premium features to Socrative PRO users in the coming months. What should you expect? Well, instant quiz sharing, a searchable quiz community, and a silent hand raise feature—just to name a few. And you’ll soon get the ability to upload your own icon for a personalized Space Race experience (what will you race?!?).
Whether you’re a seasoned Socrative aficionado or you’re just discovering the formative assessment app, you’ll want to check out all the great new features you’ll get when you upgrade to Socrative PRO.
Socrative by MasteryConnect allows you to gather formative data instantly. Looking to gather formative data over time? Check out other K-12 solutions from MasteryConnect.
May 18th, 2016
You may have noticed that we are BIG fans of formative assessment around here. And as we meet with educators around the country, we continually find ourselves in (very) good company.
More and more teachers are using formative assessment in their classrooms everyday to answer important questions about student growth:
- What do my students know?
- What do they still need to learn?
- How should I adapt my instruction?
Unlike it’s more traditional cousin, summative assessment, the formative process embeds checks for understanding into the learning cycle, so teachers can provide personalized learning opportunities based on students’ unique needs. It also helps students track their progress and take greater ownership of their learning. Both super sweet wins in our book.
Over the past few months, we’ve shared a series of articles on the ins and outs of formative assessment and strategies to put it to integrate it into your instruction. But we thought it’d be nice to have all that formative know-how in one handy, comprehensive guide.
Now you can become the hot-footed, whiz-bang, undisputed champion of formative assessment by downloading The Definitive K-12 Guide to Formative Assessment, a free 20-page resource designed specifically for K-12 teachers and administrators.
- An overview of formative assessment and its benefits for students and teachers
- The difference between formative and summative assessment
- The three must-haves for meaningful formative assessments
- Ideas to start using in your own classroom
Whether you’re new to formative assessment or you’re already a diehard believer, there’s something for you in this guide.
Looking for a formative assessment solution? MasteryConnect can help you collect more formative data more frequently. View our online demo to see how we may be able to help in your school or district.
May 3rd, 2016
Samantha is a 5th grade teacher in Carrollton, Kentucky. A mastery learning guru and exit ticket ninja, she’s committed to creating better writers in her classroom—and changing her hair color like the weather.
Reading. Math. Social Studies. Language Arts. It’s all in a day’s work. And that doesn’t include timely restroom breaks, extracurricular classes, lunch, and recess! How do teachers fit it all in? Like a generous number of my colleagues, I have become quite creative in attempts to cover state-recognized content standards and fill in the gaps with the everyday lessons that ensure students will be successful later in life.
My most recent classroom triumph involves using exit tickets to assess student learning. I know, I know… you’re no newbie to formative assessment. But I’ve found that using exit tickets in new ways has helped as I integrate writing with reading, language arts, and social studies each day. These integrated formatives are giving me the biggest bang for my buck–and they actually work!
Read on to learn about five creative integrated exit tickets you may not have tried in your classroom…yet!
#1 Short-Answer Question
For the teacher that struggles to find time to integrate writing with other content areas, this exit ticket is a must! At the completion of your lesson, ask students to respond to a short-answer question.
My students practice the RAP (Restate – Answer – Prove) method for writing responses. This criterion allows for a 3-point scoring scale: three points demonstrates mastery of the content, two points demonstrates near mastery, and one point demonstrates the need for remediation.
Determining need for specific students is no longer a challenge thanks to this three-point format. While analyzing student responses, I can sort students into three categories: those who need additional restate instruction, those who need additional content instruction, and students who need additional practice finding/using evidence and proof.
#2 Key Terms
During my 11 years of personal observation, I’ve found vocabulary knowledge is a common barrier for today’s elementary learner. To alleviate the deficits this causes, I sometimes ask my students to complete a key terms exit ticket–and it’s one of my favorites.
I’ve put a couple different spins on the key terms exit ticket. One is a fill-in-the-blank format, for which students fill in the missing term in a sentence or short paragraph. This strategy allows students to use the term(s) in context, which helps develop a deeper understanding.
Another version of the key terms exit ticket involves explaining what the key term means, and then providing an explanation as to how the student knows the definition is correct. We do this by explaining the prefix and/or ending used in the word, and using this understanding to develop a working definition for the new term.
While I do not take credit for developing the traditional “fist-to-five” self-assessment tool, I do want to share how I have adapted it to assess student mastery of learning standards. Conventionally, the fist-to-five self-assessment is used to get immediate feedback concerning lesson pacing. The fist means no additional time is needed to complete the task, while five fingers up means at least five more minutes is needed to complete the task.
I have adapted this strategy to assess content mastery on paper. I pose a question about the learning target, and the students have to rate themselves on a fist-to-five scale. Once they have given themselves a numerical rating, they must support their thinking with an explanation as to why. This explanation provides great insight into how much the students know about the learning target and how much support they may need moving forward.
In addition to this, I have found that students are very honest when assessing their own knowledge. It’s always interesting to me to delve into their minds for a brief moment and learn about them as scholars.
#4 Venn Diagram
Following the lesson, ask students to compare their new knowledge with previous learning using a venn diagram. For best results, assign a specific topic for students to compare and contrast to. This will allow you to easily reward points for appropriate likes and differences.
The expectation in my classroom is two differences on each side, and two similarities; this six-point scale makes scoring and analysis easy to accomplish.
Another popular exit ticket in my fifth-grade classroom is the summary. Upon completion of the lesson, generally a reading or social studies lesson, I ask students to summarize their new learning from the day.
The format we use for a summary exit ticket includes four components: a main idea statement, two details/pieces of evidence, and a conclusion statement. The writing integration in this exit ticket provides great opportunity for student growth.
It’s my hope that this article has provided you with some new ideas for using exit tickets to get the most out of the time you have with your students. Because we all know, no matter where you try to pull it from, there are only so many hours in the day. To make the biggest impact with the minutes you do have, the formative strategies I’ve mentioned will help you assess students for lesson knowledge while also growing writers in your classroom.
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March 23rd, 2016
How to Make Formative Assessment Work in Your Classroom
If you’re anything like us, you’re a (really, really) big fan of formative assessment. You know that embedding it regularly into your K-12 classroom instruction unlocks in-the-moment insights into what your students know and don’t know, so you can make the best instructional decisions possible.
But in order for a formative assessment strategy to drive student outcomes, it has to be thoughtfully designed to give you the data you need to determine the next steps.
This week, we share our list of the three can’t-skips, gotta-dos, must-haves for meaningful formative assessment.
#1 Proper Alignment
Formative assessment only works when you measure what you intend to measure. Correct alignment ensures continuity of instruction, instructional materials, and assessment. It also sends clear messages to students about what they know, what they need to know, and how to close that gap.
In order to align your assessments to standards, you first have to be familiar with them—which can be tricky for educators, especially those who teach elective courses. (Trust us, we know. We spent 5+ years gathering ‘em all together.)
Many informational resources exist to help you dial in on the specific standards for your subject and grade level. Check with your district for standards materials, collaborate in your PLC, or download apps specifically designed for educators (like the MasteryConnect State Apps and Resource Pins.)
Once you have an assessment ready, review it for proper alignment to ensure that it will, in fact, inform both teaching and learning in your classroom. Below are a few questions to help you get started.
Questions to Ask About Assessment Alignment
- Which standard(s) do I want to assess?
- Does the assessment directly align to these standards?
- Does it measure the concepts and skills associated with the standards?
- Is it grade-level and/or developmentally appropriate?
- Do the questions have the right level of readability?
- Does it include appropriate vocabulary for my students?
- Is it free of cultural bias?
- Will the question provide the insight I need to identify levels of understanding?
Now, you may think that we are only covering alignment for formal formative assessments, like multiple-choice or papers. Au contraire. The spectrum of formative assessment is wide, including both formal and informal assessment and is effective for all subjects and grade levels.
As an educator, you may use your own observations of student performance. This works well for activities like musical numbers, art pieces, or group discussions. Or a formative assessment could be as simple as students self-reporting their confidence in understanding the day’s lesson, like “Fists to Fives” or “Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down”. (Check out our post from a few weeks back for other formative assessment ideas.)
Regardless of how you choose to assess your students (and how you gather data about that assessment), proper alignment is the first step in making sure that formative assessment is working in your classroom.
#2 In-the-Moment Feedback
Studies have repeatedly shown that the sooner a student receives feedback, the more likely it is to have a positive impact on student learning. Summative assessments, typically administered at the end of an instructional period, often don’t communicate to students about their progress until days, weeks or even months down the road.
In episode 11 of the Reclaiming the Classroom podcast, James Seaman, a former educator and current MasteryConnect employee, shared an experience about his first year as a teacher. He remembered his students asking, “Have you graded our tests yet?!?” At the time, he thought of grading the tests as just another thing on his already infinite (and exhausting) to-do list. But looking back, he realized it was because the students truly wanted to know how they had done—they wanted to know about their own learning.
And that’s why formative assessment is so important. It’s hallmark is the ability to provide students with feedback as learning happens, while there is still time to influence growth. There are many tools that can help you get immediate results back to your students, including GradeCam or the Socrative app. Some teachers find that meeting with students for mini-sessions or dividing students into groups based on levels of understanding helps them target feedback.
When crafting your feedback to students, there are few guidelines to keep in mind.
Rules for Effective Feedback
- It’s relevant
- It includes clear goals
- It addresses misconceptions
- It provides opportunity for students to advance
- It includes comments, not only grades
Crafting effective feedback helps students know exactly where they are…and where they need to be. This is critical for the next step: self-evaluation.
#3 Opportunities for Self-Evaluation
Meaningful formative assessment provides the opportunity for both the student and the teacher to reflect on learning. For the teacher, this involves reflecting on what’s happening in the classroom, then making appropriate changes to instructional practices and strategies to improve student outcomes. For the student, this means analyzing their individual learning and setting goals for future growth.
Part of teaching is fine-tuning your skills, taking new approaches, and adapting to the needs of your students. Formative assessment gives you the opportunity to get constant feedback from your class so you can adjust instruction in the moment. Below are a few steps to take and questions to help you self-evaluate.
Consider the formative assessment you administered.
- Did it collect evidence of student learning?
- Did it provide you with helpful data to inform instruction?
Analyze the assessment data.
- What percentage of students mastered the concept?
- What level of intervention, remediation, or enrichment will be needed?
- What other strategies or resources might I use in the future?
- What went well and what needs to be changed in the instructional cycle?
- Are there any supports available to me at my school or district?
Make a plan and execute on it.
- How am I going to group my students for further instruction?
- What resources/strategies will I use with each group?
- How and when will I reassess?
After you have taken the time to reflect on your own performance, the next step is helping students do the same.
Providing students with opportunities to engage in their own learning has been shown to lead to some pretty impressive results. Students who approach academics with a learning mindset—with a focus on continual learning and self-improvement—tend to experience greater academic success than students with a performance mindset (one based on ability, comparison to others, and external consequences).
But the ability to self-evaluate is a learned proficiency, one that requires an environment of trust. Such environment—one that encourages students to take academic risks and take ownership of their learning—helps students respond to feedback and take the next steps to close the learning gaps.
Consider how students in your classroom would successfully evaluate their own learning. What would it look like? How would you know they are self-evaluating effectively? What strategies would you use to help them become more proficient in self-evaluation?
Below are few tips from other educators on how to help students assess their own learning.
Strategies on Helping Student Self-Evaluate
- Have students fill out rubrics about their own performance
- Ask students to highlight parts of the assessment where they were unsure
- Allow students the opportunity to correct their mistakes
- Divide students into pairs or small groups to solicit peer feedback
- Help students set SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely) for their learning
- Help students create portfolios highlighting their best academic work
Formative assessment is a continuous cycle that helps both teachers and students improve performance in the classroom. These three steps will ensure that you are getting the most from your strategies and making the best instructional decisions.
We’d love to hear how you are using formative assessment in your class, school, or district! Share your activities with us at email@example.com and you may be featured in an upcoming post.
MasteryConnect helps over 2.5 million educators around the world with formative assessment, standards-based grading, data-driven instruction, and teacher collaboration. Get more info on how MasteryConnect may help in your teachers and students.