Category Archives: STEAM

Digital Formative Assessments: Socrative vs. Geddit

 

socrative 1

 

Formative assessments are not new to the classroom, but their value has not diminished as new innovative practices steal the limelight. One factor that reduces the implementation of formative assessments in today’s classrooms is the time it takes to evaluate the data collected. Master teachers can informally check student understanding without even putting pen to paper, but these “pulse checks” often do not go beyond the teacher. The usefulness of these assessments comes not from helping students answer questions, but rather by informing instruction.

Why go digital?

With the widespread use of technology, we have broken down the barriers to global communication. Whether you are in the next room or the next country, instant access is not only available, but expected. We should have the same expectations in education. Teachers have long been isolated from one another by classrooms in supervision driven systems. New initiatives for common summative assessments strive to unite the separated instruction. Yet, they demand a consistency not supported by the antiquated school structure. One solution to this separation is digital formative assessments.

By digitizing formative assessments, we can not only instantly check student performance, but also share our results with students, parents, and colleagues. No longer should the teacher be the keeper of the data. Instead, teachers can share findings to identify commonalities across forms of instruction, content areas, and even states.

How does it work?

The two internet-based systems I have tested – Socrative and Geddit – take advantage of the widespread availability of web-enabled devices already in student hands. In my district, the BYOD or Bring Your Own Device initiative has been a game changer for student use of technology. Environments like ours make the old student clicker systems irrelevant and exceedingly costly.

Both programs allow for development of assessments online through a teacher account. Teachers can use quick question formats to save time, but may also create their own quizzes within the system. Students gain access to quizzes through a course code or room number. Once students have joined the digital “classroom”, they are prompted to answer the teacher’s questions. In both Socrative and Geddit, teachers control administering the quiz. However, once the quiz is complete, the two programs begin to differ.

Socrative provides the teacher with choices on reporting. A teacher may download the report immediately or have the report emailed to them. Reporting in Socrative takes the form of an Excel spreadsheet. Those comfortable with the Microsoft Office suite or Google docs will enjoy the ease of filtering data and creating visuals to share with others.

Geddit, on the other hand, maintains the reports online. In a Geddit report, teachers can view a breakdown of the student confidence in their responses, a clear list of students who may have struggled with the content, and a question breakdown.

How to choose?

Out of the many digital formats available for formative assessments, I have only used Socrative, and more recently, Geddit. I first learned of Socrative through a PD I attended and then learned about Geddit through social media. My current preference is Geddit, but I did not make this decision in isolation. Rather, I asked the students.

Student voice in the classroom has proven to increase student ownership of learning. In this case, students had been using the Socrative system for several months and been content. When I discovered that there was a good alternative to how we had been doing formatives, I had the students pilot Geddit.

Our schedule provides students with an opportunity to work on the University of Kentucky’s campus one day a week. Half of our students attend UK on Tuesday and the other half attend on Thursday. Students who attended my class on Tuesday took a formative assessment on the usual Socrative, while students who attended on Thursday took their assessment on Geddit. Thursday students then responded to a quick question on Geddit to vote for the system they preferred. Option A was Geddit is better than Socrative; Option B was Socrative is better than Geddit; Option C was I do not like either; and Option D was I like both. The results are below.

Student vote Geddit

Student response to choice of using Socrative or Geddit.

Based on student choice, we are going to discontinue use of Socrative and instead use Geddit.

If you are not ready to bring students into making this choice, here are some teacher-centered considerations when choosing:

1) Comfort with report formats.

If you are not an Excel spreadsheet fan, Socrative may not be the tool for you. However, the benefits of creating your own visuals and filtering specific requests does provide a level of control not easily used with Geddit exporting services. On the flip side, Geddit does provide the visuals for you and if they meet your needs, it saves you the time of creating them.

2) Content area concerns.

As I work with other staff members on digitizing their formative assessments, I have found the needs of each subject are different. Math in particular is tricky as equation editors are not a strong suit for these programs. We did find that when creating quizzes on an iPad uploading a picture from the camera roll to both Socrative and Geddit allowed for a bypass of equation editors.

Another feature that relates to content area is the ability to tag Common Core Standards in the new Socrative 2.0. An easy selection from a list of standards is all it takes to track your use of formatives to assess standards. Alternatively, Geddit offers a topic/activity portion to the lessons where you can type the standard or portion of the standard relevant to the day’s lesson.

3) Student self-evaluation.

Student self-evaluation has become a staple in many innovative classrooms as we continue to value the meta-cognition required by such activities. Both programs provide this feature, but the how may influence your choice. Socrative provides a standard exit slip that allows students to select from choices of confidence. Geddit, on the other hand, incorporates student confidence into all assessments. Geddit features a selection tool that looks like cell phone signal indicators and students evaluate where they stand. The visual representation of understanding vs. selection of the phrase that describes them could alter student responses.

geddit 1

4) Sharability

You may be the first at your school to incorporate digital formative assessments or be a member of a team looking to share data. This, too, will inform your choice between Socrative and Geddit. Socrative has an import and sharing feature using a SOC#. Geddit offers a share by email feature.

5) Accountability

The biggest difference I found between Socrative and Geddit is the need for students to form accounts with Geddit, whereas Socrative does not require a log in. Students first question when it comes to any activity is, “Will this count for a grade?” If you subscribe to the practice of formatives not being graded (even for completion), both programs will serve your needs. However, if you do wish to provide participation or accuracy grades for responses, Geddit might be the better option as it requires students to log in vs. self-identify by typing in their name.

Conclusions

Ultimately, the choice to digitize formative assessments is yours. What I have found is that digital formative assessments have increased student engagement, provided an opportunity for student voice, serve as a tool to track student self-evaluation, and a wonderful possibility for sharing assessments with others.

Implementation is not without its challenges. Use of blended learning in my classroom has illuminated the error in thinking of digital natives as innately digital learners. As with any learning, students must be scaffolded and given clear expectations of how to use the tools provided to them. Yet, as students become comfortable with the technology, they can find some comical ways of entertaining themselves.

When I implemented Socrative, a student accidentally typed in the wrong “room number”. Instead of taking my two question assessment, they stumbled upon a foreign class’s twenty four question assessment. This first student quickly mended the error, but others then joined in the game of trying to find other classes and take their quizzes. I even had a student give a friend at another school the room number for my quiz and had them participate. While this could be a great opportunity for collaboration across locations, it was a bit confusing when looking at my results.

Students have also amused themselves on Geddit by playing with the hand raising feature. A student can alert the teacher that they need help by digitally raising their hand. One young man in particular tested this out Day 1 by raising his hand on Geddit. To illustrate the usefulness of the feature, I called on the student and asked what he needed. Clearly excited by the attention, he replied, “Nothing. I was just stretching.”

The creativity of students always keeps me on my toes!

Signature

Design Thinking for the WIN!

Design to be shared on Earth Day with all FCPS schools.

Design to be shared on Earth Day with all FCPS schools.

The truest advice I received in student teaching was, “When students do poorly, teachers blames themselves; when students do well, teachers praise students.” Where does the praise for teachers come in? Well, today, I want to praise the teachers of STEAM Academy.

In our very first year, we have introduced many new approaches school wide. One of our biggest struggles was determining the role of Design Thinking in our structure. At the end of first semester, we realized that the wires of previous training in Project Based Learning teachers, administration experience, and parent understanding was being confused with the client/empathy centered structure described in John Nash’s “Design Thinking for Educators”.

Adapted from John Nash's "Design Thinking for Educators"

Adapted from John Nash’s “Design Thinking for Educators”

What I find remarkable and deserving of praise today is – that even with the difficulty in figuring out the true place for design thinking at STEAM – we have imparted the meaning of the design process to our students. We have done this to the point that their instincts now reflect the very client-centered approach that confused the adults!

 

Members of the club, E=USE², have been given the go-ahead from FCPS’s Sustainability Initiative to design their plan for $1500 to improve energy conservation and sustainability at STEAM. I am so proud to say that when given this news, our students immediately wanted to survey the needs of individuals who will make use of their purchases!

Design thinking for the win!

 

 

Kentucky Literacy Celebration Week

KY First Lady Jane Beshear visits STEAM Academy!In honor of Kentucky Literacy Celebration Week, STEAM Academy hosted Kentucky’s First Lady, Jane Beshear, to share our innovative approach to increasing student literacy. Kerry Hancock, English teacher at STEAM, has implemented a series of steps to shed light on the gaps in student reading abilities and ways to address these findings. Ms. Hancock’s strategies currently include:

  • Reading Groups – much like “grown-up” book clubs
  • Piloting of Quill, Newsela, and ThinkCerca
  • Individual practice reading aloud
  • And our school wide Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas

It has been a privilege teaching with Ms. Hancock, as she is exceedingly willing to share her literacy insights in order to implement a common language regarding literacy across the disciplines.

I recognize that students who struggle with reading are typically uncomfortable with science; but working with Ms. Hancock at STEAM has led me to realize science’s secondary role among core classes. Now, don’t get me wrong here, science is still my favorite and I do not claim to bump it out of core class status. What I do mean is that in order to understand science fully, students must already be proficient in reading, writing, as well as math.

Due to the lottery selection for enrollment at STEAM, we have a wonderful degree of diversity in academic and social backgrounds. While I applaud the diversity and truly believe STEAM is more innovative for selecting this way, it has posed significant complications in meeting the needs of each student. We aspire to accelerate learning as our model school, the Metro School in Columbus, OH, does. However, this means discussing covering entire high school credit courses in one semester while also integrating the Arts and Design Thinking.

Our dream is admirable, but truly raises the question, “How do we meet students where they are, while accelerating them to reach college level courses by their Junior and Senior years?”

In science, for example, students need to be able to analyze informational texts and draw inferences. They also need to be able to work with mathematical equations and graphs of experimental data. When these skills are only rudimentarily developed, the task of teaching students science becomes more of a question of teaching them English and Math literacy with science as the topic.

When this realization finally “clicked”, my perspective on science teaching and how we prepare future science teachers has significantly shifted. Science teachers need to not only be masters of science content and typical educational pedagogy, but also proficient in teaching both English and Math literacy. Then we can change how we teach science across the board and reinforce the work being done in English and Math courses. The common language that Ms. Hancock speaks of can be a reality and the “ah-ha” moments among students can take off.

I have already begun to see the benefits of this approach in my current classes and will strive to find better ways of changing the curricular focus of science to put literacy first.

Put literacy first, and the rest will follow.