Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lose the Worksheets with these Easy Digital Quick Checks

"I love standing in line for the copy machine on Monday morning," said NO teacher ever.

There is something about a paperless classroom that is utterly freeing.  When I made the jump this year to middle school life, I made it a priority goal to minimize the number of copies I make for my classroom.  Aside from projects I've printed to hang on my classroom walls, I've made exactly zero copies for my sixth graders.  Ahhhh....

After coming off of a stint in primary where paper skills are still extremely valuable and necessary (cutting, gluing, coloring, and other fine motor skills as well as station materials), I find myself not spending my Sunday afternoons hugging the copy machine and subsequently visiting with the laminator.  I don't miss it yet, but I am sure someday I will.  Until then, Brittany keeps me grounded by recounting her many hours spent cutting out lamination!

Even at the primary level, there are still many ways to reduce the amount of "papers" that travel home with your students each day. Let's face it...most of those quickly find their ultimate home in the trash can after a quick glance from a parent.  I know because I am one of those parent-type creatures.

You still need to quickly assess your students' understanding of a lesson or a concept.  Let me throw out a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.  Have more ideas?  Share them in the comments below!

5 of the Easiest 5 Minute Quick Checks that Save Trees and Encourage Creativity

1) The..."Quick! Act it out and show me what you know" video.
After a rousing discussion of the four main types of government used in Ancient Greece (what ISN'T fun about that?), I asked students in groups to create a quick 30 second video in which they act out a chosen form of government.  What ensued was hilariously fun, and it provided us with AMAZING review material!  We showed the videos and students had to guess which form of government was being demonstrated.  Did I mention fun?  

2) The Digital Exit Ticket 
Within our LMS, Canvas, students can comment on discussion questions that I post for them.  Take the exit ticket a step further and let this be a student-driven learning opportunity. Allow students to submit exit ticket discussion proposals and select one!  If you don't have an LMS, you can use polls in Kahoot, Socrative, etc. to get a similar effect.  This is a great way to gauge who has it and who doesn't.  You can also allow older students to "backchannel" your lesson and discuss with each other using resources like Today's Meet.  

3) The Twitter-esque Post
For word lovers like me, Twitter with its 140 character limit can be agonizing.  However, it does force you to be concise!  Have students compose Twitter-esque narratives that demonstrate their understanding of the concept.  Students can post these wherever convenient for you to check.  Take it a step further and create a classroom Twitter account and a jazzy hashtag to follow.  Our school has SM blocked, but there are ways around this.  You can select well-written Twitter responses and make them live and breathe out there for the world to notice for your students! #dontforgetthehashtag

4) Graphic Organizers with Style 
When I need a quick check that students always love, I go to PicCollage.  Whether I want them to compare/contrast two characters in a story or discuss the pros/cons of tyranny in Ancient Greece, PicCollage is always a top contender.  Kid-friendly and fun, it also allows the addition of relevant content such as video and photos that add more authenticity to their responses.  Bonus...I can do this on the fly if I see we just aren't "getting it." This allows me to assess quickly and adjust our learning. What can you PicCollage this week?

5) Sketchnoting or Doodling...pick your poison
This is another easy idea that is suitable for any age or stage.  I have always been a major doodler...the proof is on my church bulletin each week!  First graders can sketch or doodle while their teacher reads a story which encourages visualization, text connections, and other comprehension must haves.  Teachers can direct the flow of sketching/doodling or allow students free range.  Older students can also sketchnote/doodle their way through a content rich video or discussion.  The key here is proper management so students understand the purpose of this activity.  Doodles/sketches should be relevant and enhance their learning.  Showing them some great examples that are out there on YouTube can be very helpful, and/or model good technique yourself. There are many great apps for this skill. Idea Sketch, IdeaStorm, Inkflow are just a few of the free ones out there.  Not sure you want to go all the way with sketchnoting?  Try any whiteboard app (DoodleBuddy for primary, EduCreations for intermedate+) and allow your students to doodle 'til their hearts' content. Oh, and do let them share!

What are YOUR favorite quick checks?

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