What does assessment look like in 21st Century education? With the rise of the Common Core and the PARCC tests, there is no question that we are living in an era of accountability. In a recent conversation with a superintendent in my home state, he reflected: “the end of the year state test is just another way to confirm what we already know about our students and their achievement.” So a summative test like the PARCC is a good tool but not the only way that we should be assessing our students throughout the school year. Assessment should not only be summative but also formative, ongoing, and project-based.
A great tool for assessment in the 21st Century is the app Explain Everything (iOS, Android, Windows, & ChromeOS). Explain Everything is a unique, interactive screencasting whiteboard app that can be used as a tool for ongoing assessment. It is an effective application with both general education students and special education students and can be used in a variety of content areas. It creates opportunities for dynamic assessment by incorporating audio, drawing, and video functionality.
Image Credit: Kyle Pearce
Canadian math teacher, Kyle Pearce (@MathletePearce), began using Explain Everything to enhance his math instruction. He found that the app was a great tool to drive inquiry based lessons with secondary students. As an example, Kyle placed an image of an isosceles triangle in an Explain Everything project along with an adjustable protractor. The students use the protractor to measure the angles in the triangle. He also requires that students to use the drawing tool in the app to input the three angle measures within the triangle. While this could have been accomplished on paper, the beauty of Explain Everything as an assessment tool is the recording features. Beyond measuring and drawing, Kyle then asks his students to use the audio tool to explain what new knowledge they have acquired.
This is an important assessment tool in a math class. As teachers, when presented with a traditional math test or math worksheet, we can mark answers right or wrong, but it is often hard to determine WHY a student arrived at their answer. When Kyle makes his geometry students solve math problems in Explain Everything about concepts such as complementary and supplementary angles, he has them record the solution with a voiceover justification for each step of the work. This helps him determine if they are truly understanding the concepts behind the math. He can also determine if the justification is flawed. Additionally, Kyle has his students create video tutorials about various geometry topics and upload them to their student YouTube channels. This is a great way to encourage student ownership of their work. As Kyle says, “Explain Everything makes it easier for a teacher to determine what a student understands rather than what they know. Focusing on depth of knowledge is so much more important than simply getting the right answer.”
You can view some of Kyle’s trailblazing work using EE for assessment in the classroom here: Explain Everything Kyle Pearce Geometry Video
Explaining Language Arts and Science
K-8 Technology Educator Karen Bosch also has used Explain Everything to redefine assessment in the language arts and science classrooms. Her language arts students use Explain Everything to demonstrate what they know about concepts such as run-on sentences, action verbs, and chronological order. In the 20th Century, students would have to do a series of drill and skill paper and pencil worksheets to master these concepts. Her students were able to take pictures of sentences with poor grammar and use the drawing function in the app to articulate how the sentence can be corrected as well as the correct punctuation. When viewing the work of Bosch’s students, you see that they are using exciting visuals and dramatic recording voices to take a topic like grammar – that was once mundane for many – and make it dynamic and exciting.
Bosch also has used Explain Everything in the 3rd grade science classroom for project- based assessment. The class did a unit on animal habitats. Instead of taking a traditional test or doing a poster or written report as an end-of-unit assessment, the students designed research and inquiry questions about their animal’s habitat in Padlet, created animal habitats in Minecraft, and then they used used Explain Everything to record their findings with supporting visuals from Minecraft. As illustrated by the student example below, the students were engaged in the project as well as higher levels of critical thinking. In addition to just sharing their knowledge of habitats, they also incorporate math lessons as well as storytelling.
Featured here are students at the A. Harry Moore School of New Jersey City University enjoy a summer visit from Explain Everything Co-Creator Dr. Reshan Richards.
In my current role as Supervisor of Curriculum at the A. Harry Moore School of NJCU I am constantly looking for learning tools that will help faculty members gather assessment data about our students, ranging from ages 3 to 21, with low incidence disabilities. Progress in our school might be a moment when a student who needed intensive physical therapy to learn to walk takes their first step, or a child has improved their independence in assisted daily living skills such as brushing their teeth or eating. Progress like this is often difficult to quantify.
Dr. Reshan Richards, creator of Explain Everything, visited our school recently and showed our students and faculty members how this app can be used to tell digital stories that document student success and foster self-determination. In the upcoming year, teachers are setting up digital portfolios to share with the parents, and Explain Everything is a great way to capture data about student progress on a daily basis.
Featured here are students are engaged by Dr. Reshan Richards and the ability of his app Explain Everything to create opportunities for qualitative formative assessment in our school
Why is Explain Everything a great tool for students with disabilities? Because all students in the 21st century are digital natives and can benefit from the QFAT (Qualitative Formative Assessment Toolkit) which is the brainchild of Dr. Richards. QFAT talks about the process being the product and has four authentic ways of documenting student learning, all of which can be done in the Explain Everything app:
- Making photos
- Taking screenshots
- Filming videos
We look forward to using the QFAT framework to increase self-determination within our own learning setting.
To learn more about how Kyle Pearce uses Explain Everything in his math class, or to hear more from Dr. Reshan Richards about the Qualitative Formative Assessment Toolkit, come see them as featured speakers at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit this November in Boston!