What Does Student Assessment Look Like in a Modern Classroom?

The sweep of a red pen just doesn’t cut it in today’s modern classrooms.  One final grade seems insubstantial when students are using a multitude of digital devices to smash apps together in order to create products that are sharable to the world.  What our students are capable of doing in today’s classrooms surpass how a teacher traditionally grades work.

If a student is fortunate enough to be in a modern classroom, how can they receive adequate feedback that confirms their growth and understanding of a concept? How can teachers continue to assess student work without shutting down the creative process?  These are questions that teachers struggle with when implementing instructional technology that provides alternative ways to demonstrate understanding.  

The good news is there is a multitude of ways we can provide appropriate feedback to students. I’ve found that teaching students to being open to criticism helps the process of effective assessment.  We can coach our students to be open to criticism and understand the power of revision and reflection. This is an excellent example of the power of revision.  I use it to coach both teachers and students of all levels to be open to positive criticism and to improve their own creations through revision.

Here are 5 ways to evaluate alternative student work

  1. Provide audio feedback.  In using your own teacher voice with iinflection, students can gain a deeper understanding of your meaning. I recommend 3 tools for this.  One is Kazeina for Google Docs.  You can add this tool to your Google Doc through Add-ons.   add onsKazeina lets you insert an audio clip directly on a Google Doc linking it to highlighted text.  Another great tool for audio feedback is by using Evernote.  If you are a big Evernote user, you can have students share projects with you and you can shareback audio notes back to them about their projects.  And a third tool that I love is Notability.  You can open notes into Notability through Google and other shared spaces and add multiple audio clips to the note.  
  2. Video embedded reflective blogs.  This might be a mouthful, but I’ve seen some pretty amazing blogs out there written by young students who have embedded videos into their posts.  If utilized correctly, you could gain a lot of knowledge on student progress and performance with this tool.  Many teachers like kidblog and edublogs for this.  The trick is to get the kids to have their video created online in order to grab an embed code. Platforms like YouTube and Vimeo work well for this.  Need a blogging rubric?  Check out these from Pinterest.  
  3. Google forms.  Google forms have been around for a few years, but this tool is still a great go-to when needing a quick way to perform a formative assessment.  It is also an excellent tool for students reflection on their own progress. Google forms are easy to create and easy to share.  You end up with a great spreadsheet full of information upon completion. I know a teacher who uses google forms to see how each of his students are feeling every single morning.  
  4. Crowd-sourcing through social media.  This might feel a little scary to some teachers. But, imagine an assessment provided by experts in a relevant field.  For example, I have worked with business teachers who have leveraged Twitter to provide feedback on entrepreneurial ideas.  Celebrities on Shark Tank, for example can connect with students through Twitter to assess their work.  The world truly is flat if we know who to connect with and which tools to use.  

These tools are effective ways to provide assessments for modern, digital creations.  Assessment needs to be relevant for today’s students.  When they can post a video to youtube and get immediate feedback from anyone in the world, how are we going to match that in our classrooms?  We must do everything we can to create an environment that acknowledges their creative freedoms while aligning to what we need our kids to learn.  Be daring and try one of these methods for assessment and let me know how it goes!



5 Tools to Get Your Presence On

imagesEducators of today face many challenges.  Students live in a face-paced, information- saturated world.  How do educators keep kids engaged, informed, and connected?  Creating your own digital presence as a teacher is key to answering this question.  

If you aren’t sure where to start here are 5 tools that can increase your digital presence.


Blogging is an excellent way to tell the story of your classroom.  There are many platforms that work for a classroom blog.  We love blogger, wordpress, or edublogs.  Blogger is connected to your Google account if you have one.  Some teachers find that with blogging they do not need a website. Great sites for educators are Edublogs, Blogger, WordPress, and Kidblog.  

Check out these class blogs for inspiration.  






Real time streaming within the Twitter app is a powerful tool.  Participating in Periscope as a watcher or a videographer is a great way to increase your digital presence.  @PreriscopeEdu is being tapped as a Twitter account for educators to follow.  You can bring the world into your classroom with Periscope and provide unique, real-time learning.  Like any app turn on your notifications for Periscope and see what is trending immediately.


Twitter is being overtaken by educators!  Use Twitter for yourself professionally to connect with other educators and ideas.  It can take a while to fine tune your professional learning network, but once you have a solid foundation of people to follow, Twitter becomes invaluable. You can use Twitter for your class by creating your own class hashtag.  Simply choose a word and tell your kids what it is, like #mrssmithclass and use it for class discussions.  


Now more than ever kids are into instagram.  This generation has been dubbed, the most photographed generation ever.  Kids use photos to express emotion, status, and experiences.  Use instagram as a way to showcase student work, literary themes, science experiments, field trips and more.  Remember, you can set the privacy settings so that only certain people can see your instagram feed.  This is helpful for teachers wanting to only have their students see what is posted.  

YouTube Channel

Create playlists on content that supports your teaching and require students to watch those videos prior to coming to class to increase intervention time and group work.  YouTube channels and playlists are great, because you can add to them throughout the year in order to curate content.  

A Website

Teacher websites provide important links and information to students.  We like Weebly and Google sites.  Both platforms are free and easy to use.  Here are some great teacher websites to check out.  






My Mother-My Blogging Inspiration

As my personal blog begins to grow I am inspired by many people.  This blog is about my mother who is a blogger as well.  I may have gotten her going on this blogging thing, but her posts continue to inspire me. She is a storyteller, poet, painter, thinker, and all around inspiring human.  She is 71 years old and in great health.  She is a gardener, avid volunteer for her church and foster-care organizations.  She is a traveler, a hiker, and a foodie.  She taught art lessons at home, grows her own vegetables and has taught hundreds of high schoolers the value of literature and critical thinking.  She is also pretty techie for a gal her age. We do not live in the same city or state for that matter, but we have a special bond.  Her posts always touch my heart.Image

I love that she blogs because anytime I need to hear her voice or take a moment to pause and consider a different point of view I can read her posts.  When she has a grace-filled moment with a grandchild, she blogs about it.  When she has had a conflict, she blogs about it.  Her posts are filled with inspirational quotes, life lessons, and humorous situations.  When I am struggling to find an idea to write about, I think of her and my life.  I think of small moments that someone else could relate to, or moments that might inspire someone.  Everyone has something to share.  What could you blog about?  Who inspires you?   Check out my mom’s thoughtful posts here.  You just might laugh or learn something new!