Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right? So when there’s buzz, there’s likely something worth looking at. At TESOL 2017 one buzzword in the Electronic Village seemed to be formative assessment. Why is it valuable? How can we do it well?
Three teachers from Universidad de Los Andes (Trujillo, Venezuela) reviewed the basics during their talk Verso App: A Formative Assessment Tool to Promote Flipped Language Learning. Jose Franco, Orangel Abreu, and Alvaro Jordan explained that formative assessment gives useful information to us teachers so that we can modify our instruction and student activities during the learning process. They referred to a robust online resource created by West Virginia Department of Education: Examples of Formative Assessment. One webpage in particular goes into detail about asking the right kind of questions to gain the insight into student learning.
Imagine a tool that helped distribute your questions outside the classroom, not only in a way that was convenient and engaging, but also constructive — you could track student activity, provide feedback, and gain the kind of knowledge that guided you to make adjustments to your instruction. This is the idea behind Verso App. The free tool is web-based as well as mobile-friendly. Verso App allows teachers to share content (e.g., from YouTube or recorded via phone) and couple it with questions. Students must sign up for an account so that the teacher can easily share “flips” with the whole class. Students type in their responses that go on a discussion board. All responses are visible, but only the teacher will see individual names. Students can like one another’s posts. As a form of feedback, the teacher can comment on each individual post. The teacher’s dashboard shows who’s responded and who hasn’t. Most important, the teacher can gauge the depth of understanding based on the responses and prepare accordingly for the next lesson. (For more info on the flipped classroom, Jose Franco shared this resource from the University of Waterloo.)
I learned about a second app for formative assessment from another trio from Venezuela. Miguel Perez and Diego Navarro of MFL Academy and Mary Allega of Universidad de Carabobo gave the talk From Players to Leaders with Quizizz. (View presentation online.) Similar to Verso App, Quizizz allows for the delivery of questions and procurement of useful data. However, Quizizz can be done live or outside of class time. Those of us with devices on hand got a live demo in the Electronic Village.
Basically, the teacher creates either true-false or multiple choice questions (up to four choices are possible). Quizzes can be quickly made and immediately shared. The app refers to the quizzes as games, and indeed there’s a fun feeling built into the whole experience. Students are engaged not only by the real-time feedback, but also by the use of avatars, leaderboards, music, and memes. Questions can be coupled with photos; each question can have one image behind the text. Students may answer a set of questions individually or collaboratively (with more than one student on a device). Learners can also become the question makers, thus turning them into leaders. Students can retake any quiz.
Mary Allegra also noted that Quizizz offers a rich library of ready-made quizzes made by teachers from around the world. This gives you even more options both in and outside of the classroom.
Perhaps you have ideas of your own for using these new assessment tools. Feel free to share them in the comments.
Photo credit: Beautiful, Cheerful, Cute, Excited by Public Domain Pictures. Retrieved from the Public Domain at https://pixabay.com/en/beautiful-cheerful-cute-excited-18616/