I tried out delivering quizzes to my students today using Socrative. This is a free service (free is good) that basically turns the smart phones and laptops that my students have into a classroom response system. Signing up for an account is easy and I found the interface to be fairly intuitive. Within an hour, I had played with the software, created two quizzes, and learned my way around well enough to try it out with my next class.
When you create an account at Socrative, you are assigned a “room number” where students can find you. Once you are ready to launch an activity, all students have to do is visit www.socrative.com, click login as student, and enter your room number to engage in the activity. When you start the activity, it shows up on their smart phone or laptop.
My precalculus class and I tried three activities today: teacher-paced quiz, student-paced quiz, and exit ticket. Here is a recap of each.
I created a short 3 problem multiple choice quiz about solving trig equations. I started this quiz in teacher-paced mode which means that all students are on the same question at the same time. This allowed us to see class results so we could stop and discuss or address misconceptions that I noticed as we progressed through the quiz. Great for formative assessment and checking for understanding. I was able to view a bar graph of the live class results as they entered their answers which showed how many students chose each answer option. After ending the quiz, I was able to download an excel file that shows each student’s response to each individual question and color codes their responses so I can easily check for errors (green = correct, pink = incorrect).
I created a four problem MC quiz about inverse trig functions. I started this quiz in student-led mode which means that each student can progress through the quiz at his/her own pace. The teacher can choose whether to provide immediate feedback after each question or not; I chose to provide immediate feedback and stressed to my students the importance of giving each student the opportunity to answer the question rather than sharing answers, which they respected. My students are pretty good about focusing on the process rather than just on getting the right answer, but I would probably change this setting if I had students who just focus on the answers rather than the “why” of it all. The live class results during the quiz showed how many questions each student had answered so far and their cumulative score so far, and I was able to download an excel file after ending the quiz that showed each student’s response to each individual question.
The exit slip is a ready-to-use template. All you do is start the exit slip and three questions are posed to students. The first question is a multiple-choice question that asks students to rate their understanding of today’s lesson. The second question is a free-response question that asks students what they learned today. The third question asks students to solve the question posted on the board (you can watch my video response here: http://www.screenr.com/CdI8. We recorded it at the Smartboard using Screenr, another freebie). Again, I can download an excel file of student responses. My students thought the exit slip was very cool as they have had a sub for the past two days while I attended the Schools for the Future Conference and wanted to make sure I knew what their concerns and questions are at this point. I think this is a good way to end a lesson, but I’d like to be able to modify it as an entrance slip to see how they felt about the homework and to let me know what their questions are.
I definitely give Socrative two thumbs up! I have desperately missed my eInstruction student response system that I had at my previous school and have been looking for some sort of substitute. While I still want a student response system, this will definitely do for now. It actually has many of the features I used most often with my eInstruction system. I still need to try it out a bit more to use it on the fly, but I think the learning curve for this program is pretty small if you have any experience with student response systems. The downfall I see would be in using this for summative assessment if computer/smart phone access during the assessment would compromise test security and validity.