Saturday, September 5, 2015

Getting More Bang For Your Block (Period)

My colleague and I are co-authoring a school tech blog at We have block scheduling, and I wrote about 5 online formative assessment tools. I have written about some (not all) of this already here and here.

Here is a copy of the blog I wrote:

Let's face it. We're the New Kids on the Block. I don't know about you, but I used to think 90 minutes would be a long time to keep students' attention. Lecture and unstructured group work can only go so far. But having tried some of these formative assessment tools this year, I have seen kids high-five one another and help each other in ways that I did not even know existed. Some of these online tools will give you a platform for formative assessments that can be graded or not, and some can used just to change things up and review or preview material while doing it. There are many tools out there, so look for more in a later blog post.

Some of these tools do require prep work, but if make it once, you will have it forever. And there are many teachers who have already made great ones that are available for your use, too!

Kahoot! - Any course, any level

The first one is Kahoot! Although I have not played this one yet with students, I will this upcoming week. I did play as a participant when I attended a workshop this summer, and it is very fun! Students compete in a multiple choice quiz (they can also do surveys), logging in and then using a code that you will provide. To start, go to
This is the screen you will get, and you can make a quiz or use someone else's

Here is a Kahoot! I will use to a review what I taught last block. But you can use at the end of a topic as well.
Watch this video to learn how to make one or to use one that is pre-made. This can be used in ANY discipline, and I've heard it's so much fun that students that have a free period will log in to play, too, when they hear your class is playing! I can't wait to play this game this week.

Formative - Any course, any level

Formative is great for review or a quick do now or even a quick exit ticket. I think this is one of the best out there. I love it because you can upload your own worksheet and create boxes for students to do their work. THEN, when they click on the boxes (again, after you give them a code to sign in), YOU CAN SEE THEIR WORK ON YOUR OWN COMPUTER! Yep. All of them. At once. And your computer screen or iPad will look something like this:

You can actually give them feed back individually (see the box on the right, above)--and you can even grade them right then and there! I am going to use Formative this week in my Pre-Calculus class, and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes. See below: they just click on those blue boxes, and for them, it will turn into a space to write or draw. My worksheet has been uploaded into the website, but they do the work in their notebook. When they type or write in their answers online, I can see all of them at once and can go to whoever needs help. Remember how you would try to get to everyone and see how they are doing? Goodbye Felicia! Formative is here.

Socrative - Any course, any level

Socrative is great for exit tickets, quizzes, polls, and my favorite, space race. Watch the video below to see how to set up a space race. I find multiple choice questions the best for Socrative, as it matches student answers with your answers to give immediate feedback, and it will mark student answers wrong if they put in an extra space, for example. I think Socrative would be really fun for advisory, too, to see how well they understand one of the videos or values that we have studied.

Activity Builder and Polygraph in Desmos - Math & Science--perhaps more?

I am biased as a math teacher, I know, but this has completely changed the way I teach math. (Truthfully, I think any subject can use this.) Desmos has been around for a year or so, and last year several of us in the department found out how powerful it was. BUT NOW...after being in the pilot group at Twitter Math Camp with Liz Pursel, DUN DUN DUN...we can use Activity Builder for formative assessment in real time!! And the kids love it. Math teachers, there is so much to do here that Liz and I will demonstrate at a Math Department meeting, but if you want to play on your own, here is an example of what an activity builder can look like. I like to use it as a preview of what's to come (let them play with the sliders) but it can definitely be used as a Do Now for review or for an exit ticket. AND THERE'S MORE! Kids can see the answers to three random students in the class, so they get an idea if they are right or wrong...and there is an overlay screen (awesome!) that you can show on the board while they are working, so if students are drawing a curve, you can show all of their graphs on top of each other (without names) so students can see if they have the answer right or if they are close.

And don't forget to play Match My Line or Match My Parabola. Finally, Polygraph is a math version of "you sank by battleship," where Desmos randomly pairs up students. See below for an example, and ask Liz about her Calculus Limits Polygraph!

Diagnostic Questions - Math, Science, Language, Computer Science

Need some questions for your multiple choice Kahoot! Game? Go to They also have online quizzes that you can make.

I hope you can use some of this! I know it's hard if your school is not 1-1, but if they have iPhones, you can do much of it on those, too.



Unknown said...

Formative is an awesome resource. I've used it as part of my instruction to gauge student interest and understanding of the concepts we are covering. It really is a truly amazing product that allows you to be everywhere at once and see what the students are doing.

Kahoot is okay if you want a fast paced review game. Kids sometimes get booted out and there is not a way for them to rejoin. A better program that I've utilized is Zondle ( Unfortunately, it is moving to a paid subscription function in November, but I feel it is very much worth the cost as it can be used for review game as well as instruction and you can re-enter kids if they boot themselves off.

Lisa Winer said...

I will have to look at Zondle. I just did and it looks like a lot to learn for someone who has never done it...I will definitely look at some videos and check it out. Thanks for commenting!