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Edtech Tools Get Creative With Formative Assessments

How can you prepare students for workplace experiences that don’t exist yet? As an educator in this digital age, that’s one of my biggest challenges.

Our students now in elementary school have never had a time in their lives where mobile technology wasn't present. Look at the most innovative technology we have today: iPhone, ChromeBook, Galaxy Note, iMac, or whatever your favorite tool might be. You are literally looking at the worst piece of technology our students will see in their lifetime. Technology will only get better, because we are constantly working to improve it and make it better. As educators, we need to embrace this reality, and allow our classroom learning experiences to mimic what our students encounter everyday.

As the second half of the school year begins, educators around the world share a common focus on preparing our students for standardized testing. The data and results that come from testing can show powerful trends about student achievement, but especially in an age when technology is constantly changing, have you ever wondered if there were other ways your students can creatively show their learning, in a timely, and efficient manner?

The real test is finding ways to truly get your students excited about learning and then enable them to show what they know in non-traditional ways. Here are a few of my favorite digital tools that help teachers do just that.

Kahoot.it: This is a free, game-based classroom response system. The website allows you to assess students’ learning in a fun and engaging way, and it is very simple to use. What sets this response system apart from other tools is that students are in competition to see not only who gets the answer right, but who answers first. At the completion of each question, it ranks the participants in order of who clicked the answer the fastest. You can add images, videos or text as questions. Students can use computers, laptops and mobile devices such as tablets and cell phones. There is also a survey feature. No need to register students: they sign into the game page with the game pin you provide. It takes minutes to set up!

EdPuzzle: This is a free and incredible-easy-to-use video platform that helps teachers save time, boost classroom engagement and improve student learning through video lessons. EDpuzzle also collects data as students watch and interact with the video. Take a video from Youtube, Khan Academy or TeacherTube and crop it to use only what you need for your lesson, record your voice on top to explain, add clarifications, or add a video introduction. Embed quiz questions along the way, to check for student understanding, track who watched the video, prevent skipping, and see quiz results through the simple to read student reports. Allow your students to create their own video lessons, to create a deeper learning experience. Students can view the videos on the website, or the app, or you can can embed the lesson on your website. It’s also a perfect tool for flipping your classroom.

Flipgrid: Although Flipgrid is not free, it is affordable--teachers pay as little as $0.22 per student. With Flipgrid you can create discussion style questions that students respond to through video. It allows for you to easily provide students with an authentic audience. Students can receive “likes,” and the videos can easily be shared to social media, or by a web link.

Blubbr: This lets you play and create video trivia games. Using video clips you create, or find online, you can find out what students know about specific subjects. There are ton of videos already made.

Jeopardy Labs: Have you ever tried creating a Jeopardy game from scratch using PowerPoint? What a daunting task! Jeopardy labs simplifies the game creation process, allowing you to focus on creating challenging questions, rather than making sure links work. This online game website allows you to create your own template online, or browse their library for templates made by others.

Brainrush: This website allows you to create and share your own games. Brainrush has four quiz-like game templates to choose from, including options for flashcards, labeling/sorting and hotspots diagram matching. You can upload your own images and add your own text. The even cooler feature is that Brainrush automatically differentiates the assessment based on the answers the student gives. Here's an example: say a student labels certain states incorrectly on a map. The quiz will automatically assess the student on those missed questions until they achieve a higher accuracy rate.

Flubaroo: If you teach at a Google Apps Education School, you can use Flubaroo to create simple and quick quizzes and tests, and have them graded right inside of Google Apps. Flubaroo is a Google sheets add-on that grades quizzes simply, scores them and publishes them to a spreadsheet.

Quia: A one-year individual subscription to Quia costs only $49 (after a 30-day free trial), and it has over 16 different templates for creating quizzes, surveys, and websites. Create a Learning Management System to keep track of assignments, and calendar dates. Quia also provides access to over 300 million shared activities from other teachers.

Quizlet This website is a free resource that allows you to study for anything. Quizlet's flashcards, tests, and study games make learning fun and engaging for students of all ages. Other features include the ability to track your own progress and compete with friends. This tool works on multiple platforms, and mobile devices.

Instead of focusing our time and energy complaining about systems we can’t change, we educators can flip the script and use more innovative ways to collaborate and use formative assessment as a natural and ongoing part of a student’s daily workflow. I recommend trying different options to discover which works best for the structure of your classroom and the level of your students. Check out this list of more of my favorite digital assessment tools.

What other digital formative assessments do you find most effective? Suggest them in the comments below!

Editor's Note: Patricia Brown is a technology integration coach, an adjunct graduate professor, and an edtech professional development consultant. She is also an official EdSurge columnist.

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