Alyssa Davidson teaches 9th grade Earth Science at Ralston Valley High School. Instead of relying on a predetermined lesson plan, Davidson uses formative assessment to guide student learning and direct instruction. I recently observed Davidson to see how she integrated technology and formative assessment into her instruction. Upon entering the classroom on Monday morning students were immediately engaged in the learning content. Davidson invited students to take a short four question Socrative quiz to help determine where they were in their learning. Davidson clearly explained to the students that no points were attached to the formative assessment. This made students feel at ease and comfortable to answer the questions to their best ability. The class then discussed the answers to the quiz questions. To stay mobile in the classroom, Davidson controlled what appeared on the class SMARTboard through her iPad. Airserver is an easy, inexpensive tool to enable mobility in the classroom. By using the AirPlay feature on your iPad and Airserver software onto the device that is attached to your projector (laptop or desktop computer with a wireless card installed) you have the ability to mirror content from your iPad onto your projector.
Students then used the data feedback from the quiz to determine the next steps in their learning. Davidson asked students who missed one or more questions or just wanted more instruction on the prior content to join her in one side of the room. Students who answered all of the questions correctly were allowed to move on and begin exploring a new topic. Davidson provided these students with reading materials and Ed Puzzle videos to hold their engagement. Ed Puzzle is a web tool that allows you take any video from YouTube, vimeo, Khan Academy, etc. and adjust it to meet your specific needs. Questions and comments can be added throughout the video.
As students moved on to their individualized content, Davidson started a Pear Deck Activity. Pear Deck is an interactive presentation tool used to actively engage students in social learning. Davidson has been using Pear Deck for a little over a year. She finds it very easy to use because the interface is intuitive and the customization options are limited. This forces students to focus on the content and questions rather than the appearance of the deck. While there is a free version available, Davidson prefers the paid version for her Earth Science classes. The drag-able and drawing questions are critical for diagram interpretation and she has the ability to collect more rigorous data about student understanding than the traditional multiple choice platform. Davidson recently surveyed her students and found that “Pear Deck was the activity in class that best supports student learning and is the most enjoyable. It has also made students more comfortable making mistakes. Since there is an ask again option, they know that if their response is incorrect or needs some editing, they will be able to revise it”.
Davidson’s classroom reflects a learning environment where students are curious, engaged and in control of their own learning. By utilizing tech tools, Davidson is able to provide a unique learning experience.
If you would like to try Pear Deck here are some of Davidson's tips for success:
For more information on how to get started using Pear Deck in your classroom, check out the following video.