Sunday, 17 February 2013

Using Edmodo for anytime-anywhere formative assessment

Last Monday we had training @Rossett on Edmodo. It was not a tool I had used before but I had heard many positive things both on Twitter and around school from other colleagues. I was instantly struck by the user interface and how simple it is to create quizzes. I was also impressed with the feedback students received from the completed quizzes.

This got me thinking about how Edmodo could be used to develop students understanding in a formative way. At GCSE we were about to start the Vietnam section of our Cold War syllabus. I had produced a timeline detailing America's increasing involvement in the conflict there. I handed these out on Thursday and gave a brief overview of the topic. I then gave my students 5 minutes to revise the first four sections of the timeline.

I then asked the students to put the timelines in their folders and complete a fill in the blanks quiz on Edmodo using the iPads. (I hope you get a sense of the focus and engagement from the photo below)

Obviously, this was the first time the students had seen the topic and, despite having a really good go at it, they obviously found it difficult. But each student received clear feedback on where they had gone wrong. (You can see an example of the type of feedback below)

Their homework is to complete each of the quizzes (there are three different ones to cover the whole timeline) three more times over the half-term holidays. In preparation for a test when they return to school. The hope is that they will learn from the feedback and improve each time they take the quizzes putting them in a strong position to take the test.

1) The students were clearly engaged with the activity. There was complete silence whilst the students completed the first quiz in the lesson.

2) Fill in the blanks quizzes are really difficult. When I first saw the 'fill in the blanks' option for the quizzes I thought it might be a bit simple for GCSE students. As you can see from the feedback that is far from the case. I have used this with my A/S students as well this week and set them a similar task for homework as my GCSE. I also used it with year 7 and on reflection I made the fill in the blanks far too difficult.

3) Spelling is important. If the students cannot spell the words they get it wrong. This seems obvious but with this being the case it has put an incentive on spelling which I normally find difficult to create. Obviously with a topic like Vietnam the students are getting to grips with spellings which are quite alien to them so it helps that this is the case.

4) The students scores and feedback remain on Edmodo. This means that the students can return to a previous quiz to check where they went wrong. This means they can return to their feedback at anytime-anywhere.

5) This would be a great tool for revision.

6) That said I believe that it works even better when studying a new topic. The interactive nature of the quizzes allows the students to check, develop and re-check their knowledge and understanding without being in the classroom. My belief is that this will speed up their understanding and they will hopefully return after half-term with a much deeper and clearer understanding than they would if I had simply said 'learn this'.

7) I don't have to mark the tests. This means that I can focus on handing out praise and rewards. Edmodo allows you to create a customised set of badges that you can award. These badges stay on the students profile. Below are a few examples. My favourite is the 'bounced back from a shocker' badge.

8) The students will be certain about what they know and what they are struggling with. Whatever standard they are at when they return, I will be able see how their understanding has (hopefully) improved as they have to complete the tests three times each.

9) This type of activity forces students to 'do' something. If I had just said "learn this for a test" the majority of my students would simply have read it a few times. They wouldn't have been active and their understanding would not have developed in the same way.

10) The student feedback is instant. Apparently lads spend hours on games like Call of Duty because they are constantly getting real time feedback on their performance and can see themselves improving. Hopefully using Edmodo in this way is tapping into this.

Below is a video of my students explaining what they think of the activity:

I have experimented with several types of anytime-anywhere tools. But nothing I have used allows the kind of formative feedback that Edmodo gives. By setting a difficult quiz three times my students are getting the opportunity to receive feedback, improve, receive more feedback and improve again all without any involvement from me. I have set it over the holiday, the students are genuinely completing it anytime-anywhere and they are learning and improving. This is clearly a tool I will be using beyond this, my first week of using it.

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