As educators, we must provide a variety of options for students to develop their content area knowledge and skills in ways that meet their interests and needs. When choosing methods and tools to use, it is also important to create opportunities for students to develop social emotional learning (SEL) skills, as they are essential for personal and professional growth.
Read more: Fostering the development of SEL skills in your classroom
Our decisions need to focus on helping students by designing assessments and ways to show what they have learned while also promoting voice and choice in learning. Depending on the types of methods and tools we use for our assessments, they must help students identify where they are on their learning journey and provide us with evidence of student learning that we can use to further give feedback and additional resources for our students.
Some questions to consider when deciding on methods or tools can be:
- How can we promote more interactive and collaborative experiences for students?
- Which tools assist us by providing access to real-time feedback?
- What are some ways to promote more student choice in learning?
In addition to the traditional homework assignments, projects, and tests that we use to determine where students are in the learning process, we have access to more tools and methods than ever before.
For several years, I have enjoyed doing project-based learning (PBL) with my students and recently learned about Tract (use code RACHELLE to try), which offers so much for educators and students exploring PBL for their classroom.
Read more: 10 DOs and DON’Ts in Project-Based Learning
I recommended PBL often during the past school year, as it could withstand transitions between learning spaces. As educators had to seek new ways to assess students and provide opportunities for them to share what they were learning, ask questions, interact, and feel connected to a classroom community, many sought digital tools. Technology has provided many options for learning and enables educators to find something that meets each student’s needs and interests, and sometimes even their comfort level.
It is important to convey to students why we choose a certain method or digital tool for use in our classroom, and doing this helps us stay focused on our purpose. Consider how the method or tool will enhance learning or provide more benefits for students beyond being a way to practice the content or take an assessment.
5 Ways edtech helps students demonstrate learning
The use of digital tools promotes collaboration, communication, creativity, and many more essential skills while also boosting student engagement in learning as they have the power of choice in how to share what they have learned.
Here are five ways for students to demonstrate learning.
Blogging has been effective in my Spanish classes for years. The digital tools available make it easier for students to have a space to build their writing skills as they share ideas with their teacher and possibly their peers.
Having students engage in blog writing also helps promote the development of digital citizenship skills, especially if they have the opportunity to respond to classmates and provide feedback.
One option that has been great to try with my students is Spaces. Using Spaces promotes communication and collaboration between teacher and student, or it can also be between students and include audio.
Read more: Digital reflection tools your students can use in class
Being able to process information and create a representation of new concepts helps students better retain what they have learned. For visual learners, using tools to create a concept map or an infographic can help process a lot of information.
With tools like Canva or Piktochart, students can choose from templates available to help them get started with designing an infographic. These tools and others alike promote critical thinking skills and creativity as students decide how to best illustrate what they have learned.
There are also options for students who prefer not to use technology, such as drawing a concept map or creating a sketchnote to capture what has been learned.
Whether at the beginning of a new unit or at the end, having students create something using one of the many available digital tools will help them share their learning in authentic and meaningful ways. For example, you can opt for the many uses of digital storytelling or encourage them to make a video.
My students enjoy using tools that offer multimedia options and libraries full of choices in characters, backgrounds, animations and more to tell their stories. Some of our favorites include Buncee, Book Creator, Genially, and Story Jumper. With several of these, students can even work together to create a presentation or a book to share with classmates.
Read more: 6 Digital storytelling tools for hybrid learning environments
You can encourage practice and be able to provide feedback and more targeted lessons by using some of the digital tools available to do a pulse-check for where students are in the learning process. We can implement some hands-on games through flashcards, gestures, conversations, or leverage game-based learning tools, such as Blooket, Gimkit, Kahoot!, Quizizz, and Quizlet Live!.
Each of these tools offers a variety of question types or modes of play that will connect students with the content and provide us with real-time data to help plan our next steps and give meaningful feedback to our students.
Read more: 5 Awesome online tools for game-based learning
Using tools that promote student engagement through the variety of content and activities that can be added to the lesson helps educators better understand student progress and enables students to build self-awareness in learning. With tools like Edpuzzle, Formative, Nearpod or Pear Deck, educators have many options for adding in content and activities to help students build their skills.
What I really appreciate about tools like these is that we can provide students with a variety of ways to demonstrate their learning through open-ended responses, polls, multiple-choice questions, quizzes, and more, depending on the tool.
Read more: Assessing with multiple choices instead of multiple-choice
Formative was a game-changer in our classroom last year because I could use it to create lessons with videos and audio instructions that students could work through at their own pace. I could also use it in class for assessments which enabled me to provide timely feedback directly to students and adjust my lessons as needed. These options enable us to differentiate our instruction while promoting student choice on voice and learning.
These are just some of the many ways that we can have our students demonstrate what they are learning. Whether through technology and the many tools available that facilitate communication, collaboration and creativity, or using traditional methods, it is important to offer choices to our students.
When we can provide options that promote agency in learning, it leads to more meaningful experiences that promote the development of essential skills for the future and empower students through self-driven learning.