Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them,
then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.
When possible, use anecdotal records in the computer lab
Most of the stuff we need our students to do can be demonstrated. Can they hold the mouse correctly? Can they show me where the home row keys are? Can they use coding terminology while problem solving with a small group? You get the idea.
This is ideal for anecdotal notes because it is very clear cut. Either they are doing it or they are not.
So for every day grades in the tech lab, this is what I recommend doing. To get started, you have to do a little planning ahead. Choose what you’re looking for that day. Choose how you’ll record it. Consider how you’ll use this information to inform your instruction in the future.
There are great digital tools you can use to collect the data, but even a checklist on class rosters with the performance metric is a great option.
Choose the system you’ll use, but I recommend the I, P, M system.
This works well for something that has a firm goal that is measurable. Put a date in your notes for the specific student along with the letter to show where they are at that day.
Next comes formative assessments in the tech lab
Entrance and Exit Tickets are awesome for formative assessment.
SOME PEDAGOGY FOR USING EXIT TICKETS
1. Set a specific amount of time for students to complete their Exit Tickets.
2. Examine the tickets carefully. It can be really helpful to sort the tickets into piles of “don’t understand” “got it” and “not sure”
3. Make note of the students who self-scored very high but clearly didn’t understand the topic or skill.
4. Consider starting the next lesson with interesting ticket responses or with a graph or chart that highlights common responses. Use it to inform your instruction.
5. You don’t always have to collect a physical answer. Use these questions to ask a verbal Exit Ticket question.
6. Depending on the topic, allow students to work in small groups to come up with their answers. This really reinforces the communication standards.
7. Consider starting class with one of these questions. It can provide you with instant insight into what they know already and how your lesson needs to be paced.
Whether you do your exit tickets on paper or digitally is totally up to you and your student requirements.
These are some of my favorite digital tools for formative assessment:
On to cumulative assessments for tech class
The time will come when there is no choice but to take the time for a “real” assessment of your students’ knowledge.
The main difference between the exit tickets and a test is that it will be for a grade so students shouldn’t be able to work together or see each other’s answers. This makes some of those digital tools unusable for graded assessments. Google Forms is still a great option.
I usually take a backwards approach to assessment questions in the tech lab. What I mean by this is that I write all of my questions before I even begin the unit. I start with the end in mind. This makes it so that I can shape my lesson essential questions and exit tickets to reinforce the questions students will be asked. It makes for a much more comprehensive tech program that makes sure standards are not only met but mastered.
Some things to consider:
Starting with the youngest students, you’ll probably have to read the questions and answer choices to your Kinder and first grade students so that requires some planning.
I always read tests aloud in the tech lab because it just makes it easier with student accommodations, pacing, and student understanding. It isn’t meant to be a reading test, you know?
For grades K-1 it is best to stick with short assessments. 10 questions should be more than enough to get an understanding of their knowledge.
Grades 2-3 can handle up to about 20 questions, and grades 4-5 can answer 30 multiple choice questions.
Students are growing more and more accustomed to digital assessments, which is awesome because most of them are self-grading! If you do need to use paper, I recommend making an answer sheet that only takes up about a quarter or half page. Then you can either make one class copy of each test, or project the assessment questions on the board for all to see and read the whole test to the class. Either way it saves a lot of paper.
If you’re interested in pre-made assessments, I have them available for these topics already:
- Technology Literacy
- Digital Citizenship
- Technology Procedures
- Internet and Research
- Online Testing
- MS Office