Reports…. although it is mandated that we write reports to let parents and students know how we believe they are going with understanding the topics we present them, just how much is really relevant? Are there better ways to report on student learning. At the recent Alan November conference which was a part of #ICTEV2012, he discussed the notion that kids respond best to feedback given within seconds, not days or even months. So it does make me wonder how we can improve our response times, and I have started to explore a few tools which do indeed make life and responding to students much simpler and faster. There are so many being developed, there is bound to be one that suits your needs and environment. Teaching on the senior campus, I know the students always have their phones on them, and in surveys I have done in my classes there are generally only one or two in the class who cannot access the internet on their phones. Here are a couple of Apps I have had some success with!
The first one I will mention is Socrative…. available in Teacher and Student versions… beautifully integrates with ANY device. So I am able to set up quizzes, general questions or use those already created on my laptop, PC, Macbook, iPad, tablet, ipod, iPhone or Android phone, any mobile device which is able to access the internet. This also means you can harness the powerful devices found in the students pockets… their phones – regardless of the platform they use. When you create a Socrative Teacher account you are allocatted a “Room Number”. When students login to the m.socrative.com they are asked to enter Your “Room Number” and then join – no creating accounts, or having to remember passwords…. simple and straight to the action. The exit quiz gives you immediate feedback as to how the kids are understanding the concepts you have taught them. Very much in the vein of Eric Mazur and his Flipped Classroom. The feedback I have had from the students I have used this with is very positive, they are engaged, and enthused to learn more.
The second one I will mention is Teachernotes – developed for iPhone and iPad – not there for Android yet. I had been looking for a simple recording device where I can take photos of students work, record their progress, and primarily use it as my marking book…. This App offers all that and more. I can create up to 3 classes with the free version… the paid version is $5.49 and you can have unlimited classes. I can enter the names of my students, and record details of assessments on the fly, from conversations, folio development, interaction etc, the stuff that often gets overlooked in the recording and reflection processes, unless you have an amazing memory. Each note can be saved under the student’s name, and come report writing time, you have a list a mile long to draw from, reflecting on their learning over the semester, including potentially images and voice recordings. But wait there’s more….. as I have been recording my assessment of folios, I am then able to email their assessments/my reflections on areas which need work etc directly to the students! Win – win as far as prompt feedback and reflection is concerned!.
The last app I will mention is Nearpod… currently only available for iOS devices (that’s iPhones. iPod and iPads) and I have been hearing wonderful reports about it…. so once I finish my reports I will put together some personal feedback and a plan of attack.
Of course all of these apps can only be really useful with effective teaching practices. These tools give us the opportunity to reflect on how we teach the kids we have in our classes, and it has the potential to transform the way we teach to produce better outcomes….. if we use the tools and don’t change how we teach, the bottom line will be not much change will happen! Let’s transform learning and teaching!! What do you think? Would love to hear from other people as to what apps they find most useful! And how they have transformed your classrroom…. are you flipped yet??