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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fun Formative Assessment - Socrative.com

 My 6th grade class isn't a 1:1 classroom, but when I noticed at the beginning of the year that my school's laptop signup sheet hadn't even been created yet, I thought I would take advantage of the omission to see what 1:1 could be like. For the first couple of weeks our computer time was extended from it's weekly session of 40 minutes on Friday, to all day access and use. That extra time allowed us to get rolling much faster on our web tools than I had planned and  was like being given the gift of time. We used that gift to try out a new web tool, Socrative. (thanks to @coolcateacher for sharing the resource)

From the Socrative website:

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. Our apps are super simple and take seconds to login. Socrative runs on tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

The site accurately promises 'real-time' formative assessment and seeks to provide a student response system that is easy to use while driving student engagement. It makes formative assessment fun (yes, fun). The teacher sets up a sort of control room where you can set into motion activities that kids can respond to and can immediately view the results 'live' as they come up. Kids log on and join the room and wait for the teacher to begin the activity. Once we begin, kids are instantly 'hooked in' to what is going on in the classroom discussion. I noticed immediately that I was even getting responses from the most reserved students in my class. That fact alone should be enough to get a teacher to try the site. A demo is available on the site.

There are a number stand alone activities available such as true/false, multiple choice, and short answer polls. Socrative also features quizzes that allow me to take a quick snapshot of student learning. I can easily create and store quizzes. Initially, I only used the tool at the end of the day or lesson, but I have grown more comfortable using Socrative during a lesson. I also like to use the tool at beginning of a lesson to help quickly determine prior knowledge for the topic, and the instant polling results help me point the lesson in the right direction. Socrative now has a permanent folder on our class' Edmodo sidebar.

I've used the tool during science, grammar, and math instruction, but the student's favorite activity is the Space Race.  In the Space Race, students can click assigned teams or choose 'rockets' as they answer questions from  lesson questions. Our room is usually 'dead' quiet as teams work together and quietly (so as not to tip off other table teams) to choose the correct answers. Their rockets move across the screen and I can monitor completion on their terminal or watch with the students on the projected screen at the front of the room. Very exciting! At the conclusion of the race, results are sent to the teacher's email in a Googledoc or Excel spreadsheet, scored and graded by individual respondent.
 The site is in Beta currently and promises to make more devices compatible soon. Sign up and give it a try. Your students, and you, will be happy you did.
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