Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mini Whiteboards For Feedback

Mini whiteboards are a great formative assessment tool. Teachers can use mini whiteboards in classrooms in many ways to facilitate the exchange of feedback. A video showing several such ideas is available on the AAC website, near the bottom of this page: Formative Assessment: Whiteboards (Video) 

Some ways to use mini whiteboards as feedback tools include:

  • Whole Class Feedback
    • The students answer a question and hold up their responses. The teacher scans the room and decides what to do next, based on the student responses.
  • Teacher Feedback to Individuals
    • The students work on a problem on the whiteboards. The teacher circulates. The bright colours make it easy to spot student errors and misconceptions and provide immediate feedback.
  • Peer Feedback
    • Students work through a problem, and then compare solutions with a partner. They provide feedback to each other.
    • Students could be grouped for discussion based on their answers to a question.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sound Assessment Practices within Technology Rich Environments - a Collaborative Partnership with

AAC and the Education Society are once again participating in a collaborative partnership, funded by a grant from Alberta Education.  Through a variety of technology mediated processes, this project supports Jurisdictional Technology Contacts and other lead individuals who are working to support teachers in the classroom. A series of free, 45 minute webinars linking assessment and technology have been delivered this year, with two more remaining before the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Past webinar topics have included:
  • Mobile Devices: More than Apps 
  • Digital Feedback Tools 
  • Data Collection Tools: What Do They Really Tell You?
  • Infographics: Don't Be Fooled by Appearances 
  • Digital Forms and Assessment 
Please note: Webinar support materials can be found on the AAC website with additional resources being posted as they become available. Check back often for updates. 

The remaining 2013-2014 webinars are:

April 23, 2014, 3:45 - 4:30 PM - Your Learning Story Done Differently: ePortfolios in the Classroom
  • This is not your typical ePortfolio session.  In this session we will share a variety of tools, strategies and principles that teachers can use to help students personalize their ePortfolio stories. Participants will learn how students can share their stories using tools that complement their learning styles and mobile livesNOTE: To register for this webinar, please click on the webinar title above.

May 14, 2014. 3:45 - 4:30 PM - Visual Thinking Tools/Assistive Technology
  • Assistive technology can be a powerful tool in the classroom that supports the success of all learners.  In this webinar we will look at one form of Assistive Technology, visual thinking tools, and explore how VTT’s can help students organize their thinking and provide a gateway for students to express what they know, what they can do, and what they understand. NOTE: To register for this webinar, please click on the webinar title above.
If you would like more information on any of the webinar topics, please contact, or We would be happy to chat with you and support you in any way we can.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Technology & Assessment: Using Mobile Devices to Gather Evidence of Learning

Good assessment begins with good planning. 

When I reflect on my practice as a classroom teacher, often the assessment struggles I encountered were the result of my own failure to plan sufficiently. When I wasn't totally clear about the achievement criteria for _(insert assignment name/project here)_, invariably my students weren't clear either.  When I didn't consider the strengths and learning needs of my students, all too often individuals "fell through the cracks" or the quality of their work suffered. If I didn't plan from the outset how we would gather evidence of learning, no one knew where they were going or what was expected of them until the very last minute -- often with catastrophic results.  So in retrospect, I guess the bottom line is that when I put the cart before the horse (activities ahead of solid planning), the goal was unclear and most of the time, this meant it was missed by students completely. (Being clear about the criteria for any assignment is a critical step and the topic is worthy of its own blog post -- stay tuned for a more comprehensive look at criteria in an upcoming post!)
Photo shared with permission

However, assuming that the criteria is clear to both teacher and student, today teachers have more options for HOW they will gather evidence of learning than ever before -- if they plan for it! While ALL interaction with students yields some sort of assessment evidence, the four main types of evidence we can use to determine if students have met the learning goal(s) are:
  • Products or Performances
  • Observations
  • Conversations
  • Student self-reflections
Almost all mobile devices these days have certain "affordances" -- strengths or features -- that make them well suited for gathering a wide range of evidence of learning in the classroom. These common affordances are: (1) they are readily available (and often student owned); (2) they can take high quality digital photographs; (3) they have the ability to record audio; (4) they provide easy-to-use video recording; and (5) they are portable (mobile).

Here are a few ideas, organized according to evidence type, that teachers and students can use to gather (and share) evidence of learning:

Products or Performances: 
Student might:
Create a video of him/herself rehearsing a presentation, and comparing their performance to the success criteria (rubric descriptors) to determine areas for improvement/next steps (formative)
Create a video of him/herself and receive peer feedback from a classmate (using same process as above) (formative)
Take a photograph of a visual he/she created and compare it to exemplars or assess it against the rubric criteria; student would make changes if necessary (formative)

Teacher might:
Photograph each student’s product (work) and provide feedback on their analysis as well as recommend revisions as needed (either in a face to face conference, with "2 stars and a wish", Screen Chomp…) (formative)
Videotape the final presentation and use it to make a judgement against the rubric criteria (summative)

Student might:
Take a photograph of each step in the building process during a science project (gathering materials, brainstorming/planning diagram, blueprint, construction of model, testing…) and create a digital story evaluating the final product (alternative to written self-reflection sheet) (summative)

Teacher might:
Create a video of each student during the construction phase and perhaps ask students to show how their model reflects the blueprint they’ve created (formative or summative)

Student might:
Record (audio or video) a conversation with their teacher about the work and use the feedback to adjust the strategy/revise their work (formative)

Teacher might:
- Record (audio or video) a conversation with students to gain clarity/more insight into their thinking process for the purpose of identifying misconceptions and providing further instruction

** CLICK HERE for video exemplar of a student explaining his personal addition strategies to his teacher

Student self-reflection:
Student might:
Self-reflect orally using prompts (provided by the teacher) and record reflection (audio or video); share with a classmate and have him/her check work for accuracy  (formative)
Choose an area they struggled with (identified on a written self-reflection sheet) and create a video discussing what they are having difficulty with. Submit to teacher for feedback. (formative or summative)

Teacher might:
- Capture video evidence of students reflecting on their difficulties completing a task, and then use this information to plan supports to help students
Keep copies of video evidence and share this at parent-teacher conferences (provide parents with resources to help their child with an area of difficulty…)

Final thought: Together we are stronger than we are alone...

Do you have any other ideas to share about how you might use mobile devices to capture evidence of learning? Please post your thoughts/ideas below!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Our New and Improved Website: The Dawn of a New Era at AAC

This past week our new AAC Website launched.  Now, you might be thinking: "Big deal...websites are created, updated or launched all the time!" and that claiming that this is the dawn of a new era might be a bit much.  Perhaps. But around the AAC offices, our new website has created quite a stir.  Here's the top 5 reasons why we're so excited about it:
Welcome to the NEW AAC Home Page 

1) It looks great!
2) It is WAY easier to navigate, search, and locate content. For example, we have incorporated a easy to use menu for searching assessment materials right on the main page.
3) Tabs and accordions provide you with an overview of resources at a glance, but keep you on the page while browsing.
4) Our extensive library of Performance Assessment tasks have been reformatted to make it easier for you to find just what you need to support student learning.
5) The "Hot Topics" menu contains research-based responses to current assessment topics of interest to system and school leaders, as well as teachers and parents.

Coincidentally, the launch of our new website corresponds with the first post on the new AAC blog. We've titled this blog: 'Everyday Assessment to Support Student Learning', because ultimately that is what we're all about, and it is our sincere hope that this blog will provide a venue for sharing best practices and ideas, as well as engaging in conversation with the broader assessment community. So welcome to our new blog! Welcome to our new website! And welcome to the dawn of a new era at AAC. We sincerely hope that you will journey with us as we explore Everyday Assessment to Support Student Learning!

To watch a two-minute video tour of the new AAC website, click HERE.