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Posts tagged ‘assessment’

Tip of the Week: Video games equal effective formative assessment

Last month at the AESA conference, Curtis Chandler and I had the opportunity to do a presentation on gamification in education. I always have fun working with Curtis and when we get the chance to talk about games, even better.

One of the things we talked about was how game design and instructional design are very similar. How game developers use brain research to create engaging, profitable games. And how we as educators should be using similar research to plan lesson and unit design but often don’t.

As early educational game researcher James Paul Gee says

Better theories of learning are embedded in the video games many children play than in the schools they attend.

One of the conversations that we especially enjoyed was asking teachers to describe what an effective learning environment looks like. The list ended up looking like this:

  • students make choices
  • students become experts
  • solving problems is required
  • immediate feedback is key
  • there’s always an answer
  • working with others – in and out of the classroom – is allowed
  • failure can be a good thing

We then asked teachers to think about characteristics of engaging games. It ended up looking like this: Read more

Sample state assessment, historical thinking assessment tools, and useful primary sources


Okay. I’m an idiot. Several (many) of you have noticed that I said that I attached Don’s presentation. But I never did. Now I have. It’s linked below and here. Kansas teachers? You need to download this to see what the state assessment beta version looks like. (Be sure to scroll down for the rest of the goodies.) The rest of you? Scroll down for the rest of the goodies. You’ll find them handy too.


For the last few years, you’ve read about the process we’ve been working through as Kansas rewrites its social studies standards and state level assessment.

I’m convinced that the writing committee made up of teachers and state department staff developed a pretty awesome standards document. If you’ve been already for the the conversation, you already know that the focus has always been on finding ways to encourage process and historical thinking rather than simple memorization.

The real question, from the very beginning, has always been trying to figure out what the assessment will look like. How can you measure – at a state level with thousands of kids at different grades in a standardized way – historical thinking? How do you score it? What does the rubric look like? How can you train teachers to use the rubric consistently? Even at a classroom level, teachers are still working to figure this out. At the state level? Add the recent mandate that the elementary and middle school version of the test must now also act as the state writing assessment and it becomes a bit of a nightmare.

Thankfully Don Gifford and his crack staff of . . . well, just himself is on the case. Yesterday Don shared the latest vision of what the state level document looks like. And I can already hearing those of from places not Kansas clicking the Next button to head somewhere else.

But you need to hang around because Don and others have created and shared a series of resources that I think are useful for all social studies teachers. Read more

4 resources to help you assess historical thinking

The current buzz in the state of Kansas is the upcoming state level social studies assessment. It’s scheduled for full release during the 2015-2016 school year with a pilot release next spring.

It’ll be interesting.

Because we’re trying to do something that we haven’t done before. Measure historical thinking skills, not the ability to memorize foundational knowledge. We can’t just use simple multiple choice.

Obviously, part of the process is to encourage the teaching of these sorts of skills at the classroom level and to develop different types of assessment strategies that teachers can use.


Four online tools that you can use to measure the historical thinking skills of your kids: Read more

Everyslide = SlideShare+Socrative

Disclaimer right from the get go. I haven’t played with EverySlide a lot. So  . . . head over, try it yourself, and let me know what you think. But based on the amount of time that I’ve had to mess with it, EverySlide seems like a handy tool to have hanging off your tool belt.

At its most basic level, EverySlide is a web-based tool that lets you share your presentation slides with whomever you want. So it’s a lot like SlideShare or Issuu. Upload your slides, share a link, people can view the slides anywhere/anytime.

But there is a difference.

EverySlide also has a little bit of Socrative or Kahoot embedded in it. It’s designed to be a live presentation tool so that whenever you’re talking, your participants follow along on their own devices. You can still project your slides but the idea is that you control the flow of the preso from your device. Kids do have the option to go back and review slides you’ve already covered but they can’t go forward.

And here’s the kicker.

Read more

History Nerd Fest 2013 – 21st century Social Studies assessment

With an awesome name like Bruce VanSledright, you know the guy just has to have his arms wrapped around what quality assessment looks like. I have seen some of his earlier stuff but haven’t heard his thoughts on assessment.

So we’ll see. I have faith.

The idea is that we can use the NCSS College, Career, and Civic Life standards to help use figure out good assessment stuff. Bruce starts out by highlights problems with past and current bubble, MC type tests that focus on foundational knowledge.

These “traditional” kinds of tests are great at measuring the capacity of students to memorize details, to recall isolated knowledge bits, assessments are often designed to actually measure the reliability of the tests themselves, and – just a little tongue in cheek – to measure our ability to teach to the test.

Bruce says that much of what we can do with the actual data from these sorts of tests is pretty limited. They provide no timely formative information. And rarely is the data actually tied to individual students any way.

So how can the NCSS standards help us re-think assessment? Read more

Kahoot equals easy, fun, gamified assessment

I know none of us have ever been to a bar and played one of those trivia games with the special keypad. But I have heard of them. Perhaps you have as well. Questions come up. The time counts down. The quicker you type in the correct answer, the higher your point score. After every question, you see everyone else’s score – giving you the chance to compare your score with the rest of the group. It can be incredibly addictive and a lot of fun to play.

I mean, that’s what I’ve been told. I would never sit in a bar, playing some silly video trivia game over drinks and snacks with friends. Because that would be, well . . . okay. Yes. I’ve played video trivia games over drinks and snacks with friends. It’s incredibly addictive and a lot of fun.

All good games have three basic elements. These elements combine to make it hard to walk away from the game. The first element is a goal. There has to be something that players are working to achieve. The second element is some sort of instant feedback. All good games give you some idea of how you’re doing, while you’re doing it. And finally there’s something called flow.  Flow is the perfect balance between too easy and too hard. The game has to be hard but not so hard that you can’t win.

The video trivia game has all three. I want to have more points than everyone else. I get feedback after every question telling me how I’m doing. And during the questions, as time is counting down, wrong answers slowly disappear until just at the last second . . . only the correct answer remains. This helps provide a balance between hard and easy. And so millions of people get hooked into playing the game.

All this to say that there’s a new assessment game in town. And it contains the same sort of elements that a good game would contain.

It’s called Kahoot! Read more


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