Assessment technologies have exploded in the last decade of teaching. Throughout my five years of undergraduate schooling and four years of educating, I have developed my teaching practice alongside this new wave of technology innovation. It can be very overwhelming when new programs are constantly being developed and implemented in schools for various reasons. However, there are a few obstacles that I have had to navigate to find out what works best for myself, my students, and my teaching philosophy.
For starters, it has been encouraged to use any type of assessment tool supported by our division both financially and through professional development. This has been extremely useful because I have received lots of training for these programs, and they are pretty user-friendly. This includes mainly Mathletics and Seesaw. However, something challenging to wrap my head around is finding a balance between using “old-fashioned” ways of assessing and “new ways” of evaluating. By having conversations with different teachers and using various assessment technologies in the classroom, I have started to form my own belief system about what works and what does not regarding assessing my students.
It is no longer simply assessing students to see what they can memorize and regurgitate. In elementary and middle school specifically, the focus is now more on the process of learning and progression. We do not expect kids to be successful at everything they try the first time, so why do we believe this for routine assignments and tests? If a student does poorly on a math exam, that does not mean that they would do poorly if they had time to practice and try again. I am building into my weekly plans more frequent assessments on smaller parts of a topic. This is to feel less overwhelmed when it comes to a culminating evaluation at the end of a unit.
Currently, there are a few different assessment technologies supported by our school division through funding that are available to use. For math, all students are provided an account for Mathletics. This math program is beneficial for extra practice on math outcomes directly related to the Saskatchewan curriculum. As well, students are excited about using computers for math instead of notebooks. The most helpful feature of this website is that I can assign specific assignments and see which answers students got correct and which ones they got wrong. You can also differentiate the lessons based on math skill level as well.
In addition to Mathletics and Seesaw, I use various other assessment tools for subjects such as Kahoot, Mentimeter, Blooket, Brain Pop, and Kid Blog. These types of websites have similarities, which can make it overwhelming when deciding which one is the best fit for what you are trying to collect information about. Students love to try new activities, thus integrating different assessment technologies throughout the school year to keeps them excited and engaged. This is vital, so they do not become bored or no longer interested in the current websites we use. Authentic assessment is something that I have always considered a weakness of mine. It can be very challenging to align the curriculum outcomes, culminating tasks, practice time, homework, and inquiry in an equal balance. I would love to hear about how other teachers implement assessment in their classrooms to assess their students formatively and summatively.