STEM in Primary

STEM in Primary
A blog for those interested in primary school STEM education

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Making a Teacher's Life Easy: Digital Assessment Tools

Stuff this week - Making a Teacher's Life Easy: Digital Assessment Tools

Two weeks ago I introduced a concept which has been shown to increase the time a teacher has available on the classroom to work directly with the students, flipped learning. This week I want to mention another time saving use of technology.
Teachers regularly conduct quick assessments of student progress during a block of teaching a topic. Typically this will be a short exam such as a spelling test. After the test is completed the teacher has to spend time marking the twenty or so papers which takes time. This method enables the teacher to know where every student is at with the subject material but the time taken up is large. An alternative is a short quiz where the teacher asks individual students for their response. This doesn't take much time but doesn't capture every child’s level of understanding. What is needed is something which every child answers but doesn't need to be marked individually by the teacher.
As it turns out there are a multitude of software options that do just this. They can be used as conversation starters, competitions or plain individual tests. All of the software I mention below is free for school or small class use.
If all the teacher has access to is a phone or tablet they could use Plickers. Each student is given a piece of paper with a unique shape on it. Depending on which way up the paper is held the students can answer A,B,C or D. The teacher scans across the room with their phone, the app recognises each student's answer and records it for immediate display or later analysis.
Image result for kahootOnce all students have a device then the teacher could use Kahoot. Kahoot is best known for its quiz show style mode where the fastest to give the correct answer gets a higher score than other correct students. This adds an element of fun (gamification) to the assessment. It also has an untimed quiz mode. In all cases data can be downloaded for later review. Some teachers prefer Socrative which is similar.
Gosoapbox is best known for its discussion mode. Students are presented with the multiple choice answers and after they choose they are then shown a graph of how many students chose each answer. This is great for checking opinions on a topic which can then lead into why the students have that view. It also has a quiz mode as well.
If data gathering is the goal then Google Forms would likely be the perfect choice or for spelling tests the website Spelling Stars is a good solution.
It is helpful to be across a number of these tools as they each have their strengths. Teachers just need to select the tool that saves them time and if it increases student engagement then that would be a bonus. If they were setting a multiple choice assessment anyway then why would you not use one?
Has your school trialed any of these tools? Was it successful? If not then please let me know why.
P.S. The are many other applications available. Just google “kahoot alternative” and filter for the last year.

Stuff in the news

Teaching teachers digital literacy - Dr Jane Hunter speaks with Wendy Harmer on ABC radio about teacher training, school Internet connectivity and SMART planning.
Man versus machine: Evidence that robots are winning the race for jobs - An article from the Brisbane Times 28 March 2017
Corporate Brings STEM Program to Disadvantaged Students - Disadvantaged students in low-socioeconomic communities will have access to evidence-based STEM education resources through a new corporate partnership
A 'dire' lack of interest in students wanting to pursue maths careers - An article from the Sydney Morning Herald 30 March 2017

Stuff to buy

micro:bit - The UK lead with way with computing for kids. First the Raspberry Pi and now the micro:bit. Designed by the BBC it is a tiny computer made for education.
*At this point in time I earn no money from any product I list and I am not affiliated with any other company.

Stuff in education

It has been a big few weeks for STEM conferences. The World Science Festival in Brisbane wrapped up a week of science on Sunday the 26th. The Street Science weekend was fantastic with big crowds but plenty to see and do. It is an excellent event made even more awesome by the fact that much of it was free! 
In the same week the Future Schools Expo was held in Melbourne. Anybody serious about reshaping education was there. This is organised by the same people who are organising EduTech which is on in Sydney starting on May 30.
Also in Sydney; this week was the 2017 STEM Symposium and later the 4th Annual STEM Education Conference is on 26-27 July.
For those in Brisbane there are two conferences coming up which may be of interest. The "Leading A Digital School Conference" is on 17-19 August at Surfers Paradise and just after that the "Adolescent Success Teaching and Learning Conference" is on in Brisbane from 24-26 August.
Hopefully your school is sending representatives to some or all of these.

Stuff to do Australia Wide

Young ICT Explorers -  A non-profit competition, which has been created by SAP to encourage school students to create their best Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related projects. Registrations are OPEN. See the YouTube video here!
Edutech 2017 - EduTECH is the LARGEST education event in Asia-Pac and the Southern Hemisphere. 7-9 June 2017 in Sydney.
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Young Engineers Australia - Provides an engaging, hands-on learning platform using LEGO® and K’nex® assembly kits
CoderDojo - A volunteer run programming club

Stuff to do in Brisbane

It's Rocket Science School Incursions - Educational and fully interactive project based rocket science incursions for primary and secondary schools in a safe and empowering learning environment.
Robotronica 2017 - Robotronica is a groundbreaking one-day event showcasing the latest developments in robotics and interactive design. QUT's The Cube 20 August 2017 
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Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
The Cube at QUT has a number of changing programs. 
Brisbane Planetarium - Features entertaining and informative shows for adults and children
Flying Fox Studios - A studio offering programs in the arts, music and construction areas from babies to teenagers in Brisbane

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