Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Tech Tip: Using Schoology for Formative Assessment (Part 2)

Last week's blog post focused on the first critical learner question with formative assessments: where am I going?  Schoology's custom learning objectives and options for sharing exemplars are ways in which we can address that first question.  This week, we'll focus on the second critical question:  where am I now?

 According to Stephen & Jan Chappius, "[w]hen teachers assess student learning for purely formative purposes, there is no final mark on the paper and no summative grade in the grade book. Rather, assessment serves as practice for students . . ."  So how can you help students know (and reflect on) where they are without a potentially punitive "grade in the grade book"?

1.  Give assessments or assignments a zero factor.  
One way you can use Schoology to provide information without assigning a grade is to give the test/quiz or assignment a "zero" factor.  When selecting "Grading options" in an assessment or assignment, you have the option to give it a "0.00" factor.  That means that whatever is assigned has zero impact on the grade in the gradebook, but students will still see feedback and items that are correct and incorrect.

Tip: to help clarify what this means for both students and parents, name or title the assignment something that indicates its weight, like "Practice" or "Feedback Only."  If you are using weighted categories, you could also create a category in your Schoology gradebook that has a "0%" weight and put any formative work into that category so that it won't figure into the final grade.

2.  Have students self-assess using a test/quiz in Schoology.
From Lucy Calkins Writing Pathways Student Checklists
If you have a rubric or a checklist that you want students to use for self-assessment, you can create a quiz with the rubric or checklist descriptors as separate questions (either  multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank).  As students decide where they are in relation to the checklist or rubric, the information is tracked for you in the "results" tab.  And, if students are allowed to resubmit, you can see their answers for each revision.

Tip: make all options in the multiple choice questions "correct" so that students aren't "wrong" for whatever they choose or use the word bank option for fill in the blank. For multiple choice, set each answer to be worth 0 points to avoid point penalities.  You can either give this a completion grade with a bulk override or use the "zero" factor to keep this from affecting the overall grade.

3.  Use Mastery to help students see their progress on specific learning targets or outcomes.
If you tie assignments or assessments to your learning objectives or standards, the mastery view will provide the learner with information about whether or not they are meeting the objective.  One of the best things about mastery in Schoology is that it helps students see multiple assignments that are tied to the same target.  If you are using several pieces of work to support standards, students (and you) can see a cumulative achievement for that standard as well as achievement for each item assessed.

4. Use Backchannel Chat or a Discussion Board for student reflection.
If you would like students to reflect on where they are, you can use something like Backchannel Chat (an app you can add to your course in Schoology) and do a quick poll.  Or, use a Discussion Board to have students reflect on their learning.  Want it to be private?  Use an assignment instead of a Discussion Board -- this gives you "journal-like" options for reflection.  Either way, the student has space to reflect on where they are with learning goals.

5.  Embed or link other tools for self-paced quizzes or checks for understanding.
You can always create a zero factor quiz or exit ticket assignment in Schoology, but if you want to use something else, there are quite a few web-based options for letting students know where they are with learning.  The following can all be linked or embedded in Schoology.
  • Using video?  Think about embedding EduCanon, EdPuzzle, or Zaption.  All of these tools allow you to insert questions in a video to help students track their own understanding.  
  • Using polling?  Use Schoology's poll feature in an update, use the Backchannel Chat app to poll students, or use something like PollEverywhere.  
  • Focusing on vocabulary?  Embed Quizlet's test or game mode to help students recognize where they are with understanding terms and definitions.  
  • Want to give quizzes or collect exit tickets that aren't in Schoology?  Try linking to Socrative quizzes, Kahoot, or ExitTicket.
As students are engaging in the learning process, knowing where they are without fear of a wrong answer or a bad grade helps keep them focused on where they are going -- and ultimately, helps lead to the next question: how can I close the gap?  We'll take a look at that question in next week's blog post.


"5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools." Edutopia. Edutopia.org, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-fast-formative-assessment-tools-vicki-davis>.

Atkin, J. M., Black, P., & Coffey, J. (2001). Classroom assessment and the national science standards. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Black, Paul, and Dylan Wiliam. Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Granada Learning, 1998.

Chappius, Steven, and Chappius, Jan. "The Best Value in Formative Assessment - ASCD." 2010. 14 Apr. 2015 <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec07/vol65/num04/The-Best-Value-in-Formative-Assessment.aspx>

Moss, Connie M., and Susan M. Brookhart. "Lay of the Land." Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom a Guide for Instructional Leaders. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2009.

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