Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Plickers Works!

Last Wednesday's What Works post talked about how I am using exit slips to assess my students. I also talked about using a Senteo response system. While I like both of those assessment options, I don't always like the preparation it takes to get things set up for both. My response system can be quirky. 

On one of those days, where technology was not my friend, I happened to come across a post about using Plickers. I had not heard of Plickers, but was eager to try something that I had more control over. 

The Plickers app is available for Apple OS and Android. It is a free app available for iPads or smartphones or tablets. Students names need to be entered. A predesigned code, like a QR code is printed for each student. I printed on cardstock.

The questions can be typed for display, like on a smartboard, or Apple TV (two devices needed - one to display, and one to scan). Alternatively, you could read the questions aloud. The questions can be multiple choice or true/false. 

Students turn their card so their answer choice points up. The letters are small, so students cannot "cheat" from across the room. I put small answer choices on the back of the card, so students can easily decide which way they want to turn the card. My students stand in rows, so I can quickly scan the room.
Cards 1 and 2 for 2 students

The cards are scanned quickly with an iPad, iPod, or smartphone. I recommend not laminating the cards, as the half sheet card reflects light when laminated, making it more difficult to quickly scan the answers. I have students hold the cards against their chest when they have made their choice. The Plickers program will let me know when it has recorded the answers, and who still needs to answer. 

My students like Plickers as a pretest or a quiz. I like the instant feedback and access to the data, the ease of use, and the price. My only real cost was for the cards, as a device is almost always within reach in my classroom. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

You Are My Hero!

Thanks Melon Headz Illustrating and KG Fonts

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sitewide sale tomorrow and Thursday. As educators, we often get a bad rap. The public often doesn't understand all the things we go through to educate our students. The public doesn't realize how much personal income teachers pump back into their classrooms. I know my own classroom has benefited from thousands of dollars spent on units or worksheets, furnishings, decorations, storage and organizational materials, and thousands of novels purchased for my classroom library. Teachers Pay Teachers is letting the teachers know how much they are valued. They really are heroes to their students, families, and communities.
As a tribute to all those teachers out there, I am joining Teachers Pay Teachers in offering 20% off of my store. With the additional savings, you will save 28% off any item in my store. It is my way of trying to help you provide for your students, while saving you some cash.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Addressing Professional Goals - Testing, Testing

I work under a contract that includes merit pay. We use the Danielson model for teacher evaluation. As part of the process, we have to do a mid-year self-assessment. As I worked through the assessment, I pinpointed some strengths and weaknesses in myself or my teaching. I am going to do a couple of posts on what I am doing to address these professional goals.

One area that I am working on is aligning my assessment with my instructional outcomes. I am using a variety of formative and summative assessments. One of my favorite formative assessments are exit slips for math, reading, and writing. I purchased the sets of passes from Melissa O'Bryan last summer. They are common core aligned, so you just need to print the relevant slip for the day. They are easy to use. They do require printing and storing the slips. They give you a snapshot of how students are doing on the concept. You can graph responses to track student progress, so you don't need to keep the individual slips. You can check the exit slips out here, in her store.
I also use technology based assessment. My students love the instant feedback. I was using a Senteo response system for all of out selection tests for stories from our anthology. Our system is older, so I am limited to multiple choice, true/false, and numerical answers. My neighbor and I both use Senteos, sometimes at the same time. They are great for giving feedback, and grade the test for me. It helps save time. What I don't like, is that the technology can be quirky. Sometimes the computer acts up, or the receiver cannot "find" our class. 

Class and individual results are easily accessible. I can easily see what concepts were difficult and may need to be readdressed. I export the results on an excel spreadsheet. It makes transferring to the grade book easier. Overall it works well, but there are other ways that use other devices that I will get into in next week's installment. 

 In the meanwhile, I would love to hear what works for you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Currently a very snowy Feb. 1st

It is February 1st and time to link up with Farley for her Currently Linky.

After last year's record sixteen snow days, we have only had one this year. Our luck will likely change for tomorrow, as it is snowing as I type. We have been north of most of the storm paths, but the bull's eye is right over Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Every hour it seems the local meteorologists have changed the forecast. They are now predicting 10 to 14 inches of snow by the time it ends tomorrow morning. Winds should bring drifts of three feet. 

My husband bought a new snow blower. Our old one is very picky, and doesn't like to start for me. He knows me well, and knows I will clean the drive before he gets home tomorrow. He didn't want me to have to shovel by hand. The new one has an electric start, and is lightweight. It should be much easier for Princess, Hubby, and me to use.

I have a long list of things I want to do if I have the day off. Today, I completed one, by making a delicious breakfast for us. I am making snacks for the game tonight as well.

I hope we get a snow day, or it will not be fun driving the country roads to get to school. The winds should drift over many. 

I have been making a few lessons for my kids. Although it isn't really "flipping" because many of my kids don't have computer access at home, it does allow me to add technology to my lessons. I was posting to my password protected website, but want it to be easier for kids to access. Videos are on my thinking and needing list. Only problem, I hate hearing myself on videos!

My Pageant title is because I love technology and often are sharing, and encouraging my colleagues to try new things. It often backfires, as then they want me to share the technology with them. That means less time for my kids to have it. Argh! 

How are you spending your first day of February? Link up!
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