Top Recommendations For Creating Digital Age Assessments

Why do we assess students?

Teachers should assess students on a regular basis.  But why? According to the National Education Technology Plan, “Most of the assessment done in schools today is after the fact and designed to indicate only whether students have learned. Little is done to assess students’ thinking during learning so we can help them learn better. ” Assessing students on a regular basis and using that data to change the way we instruct our students will lead to academic improvements.

Is there anything else pointing towards the need for more assessments? Yes. Standard #2d of the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) states that teachers should, “provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards, and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching.” A paper-based assessment is no longer good enough. A variety of digital-based, authentic assessments are needed today.

How often should we assess?

According to Project Red‘s study of 997 schools where new technology implementations were occurring, online assessments should occur at least weekly. That’s one assessment per subject per week at a minimum.

One easy and effective way to assess on a daily basis is to use Exit Slips.  At the end of each class, ask your students to answer 1-3 questions to help you gauge what they learned that day. The results let you know how to begin class the next day. If you taught synonyms and antonyms for 40 minutes, but a majority of students still don’t know the difference between the two, then you should circle back on the topic the next day to correct their misconceptions. Waiting until an end-of-unit test will be too late.

 Top recommendations for creating digital age assessments

We have several suggestions for creating digital assessments. Two guidelines we used when coming up with these recommendations are that the resources should be free (or low cost) and they should work across multiple platforms (PCs, tablets, iPads, Chromebooks, cell phones). Students should be able to just jump in and start taking the assessment in less than 30 seconds, so all of the choices do not require an additional username and password.

  1. space raceSocrative (free) is by far the most widely used student response system in our school district. It has the basic question types (T/F, Multiple Choice, Short Answer) and works on all platforms. Two places where it stands out is the Space Race game feature and the Exit Ticket function.
  2. Kahoot (free) is very easy to use and has a clean look to it. Where it stands out is that users earn more points based on how quickly they respond. It’s a competitive review system that provides the teacher with formative data.
  3. quizlet (2)Quizlet (free and paid) is essentially a supercharged online flash card system. Teachers AND students can create a set of flash cards to quiz others. Where it stands out is that it offers several games that provide users with a score. Scatter and Space Race are very popular games. Teachers will have students practice a set of flash cards until they get a certain score (4,000 pts) or time (under 25 seconds), and then each student takes a screen shot of their qualifying result and submits it to their teacher.
  4. Schoology (free and paid versions) is an LMS that offers six types of questions and has excellent analytic tools. The benefit is that students who are already using Schoology have no additional learning curve – the quizzes are available from within the courses they are already a part of. The limitation with Schoology is that you cannot use it for assessment on its own; it works effectively when you are using it as your LMS.
  5. Nearpod (free and paid versions) is a presentation and assessment tool all in one. It is unique in that whatever is on your screen is also what is on your students’ screens. When you move from one slide to another, the slide changes on all of your students’ screens, too. Students cannot get ahead or fall behind – they are exactly where you want them to be. The teacher builds in assessment questions throughout the presentation to get feedback throughout the lesson. This is not an assessment-only piece of software; it is used in conjunction with a teacher-directed presentation. A huge drawback is the cost. The free version gives you a small number of presentations; if you are going to use Nearpod regularly you will need to pay the $120 annual fee.
  6. Poll Everywhere (free and paid versions) is a fairly basic polling system that lets your class respond to multiple-choice questions. It does not allow for individual scoring or statistics, but it does allow for quick data collection on your class as a whole.  There is a limit of just 40 users per poll unless you pay the $50 annual fee.
  7. Google Forms (free) look like an online survey. They are easy to fill out, but they are not visually appealing. Google Forms offer many features to collect and analyze data. The drawback is delivering your assessment to your students. Students need the exact URL (or Google-shortened URL) to take the assessment, and you have to know a little bit about spreadsheets to be able to analyze the data. If you’re a competent Google user go ahead and try Google Forms, but they are not as quick and easy to create and deliver as the other ones listed above.


The National Education Technology Plan summarizes our need for better assessment best: “There is a difference between using assessments to determine what students have learned for grading and accountability purposes (summative uses) and using assessments to diagnose and modify the conditions of learning and instruction (formative uses). Both uses are important, but the latter can improve student learning in the moment (Black and Wiliam 1998). “


Assessment: Measure What Matters <>

National Education Technology Plan <>

National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers <>

Tech Tuesday: Quizlet, Google Forms, and Formative Checks <>

Backing up photos from your iPad to Google Drive

Storage is a big concern for iPad users – there simply isn’t enough storage on the iPad. You need to move your photos off your iPad to clear up space for new photos, videos and apps.

Storage is also a problem when it comes to backing up your iPad. Apple only gives you 5GB of online storage for free. The best way to back up your iPad on a regular basis is to back up all your data and settings to iCloud except for your photos and videos – those need to be stored elsewhere. That’s where Google Drive comes in.  Google gives users 15GB of storage for free (students get 30GB), which is perfect for backing up photos from the iPad.

Before you start, you will need to know your Google Drive account information (email address and password), and you will need to have the Google+ app installed on your iPad.

Now let’s begin.

  1. First, open the Google+ App on your iPad (or iPhone or Android phone) and sign  in using your personal Google account. IMG_0152
  2. Next, tap the Settings button in the top right of your home screen. It looks like a gear. In the picture below, it is the gear icon at the top of the photo of the old church.IMG_0153b
  3. Next, tap the Camera and Photos setting. IMG_0161
  4. Next, tap Auto Backup under the Camera heading.
  5. Move the slider next for Auto Backup to On (which turns the slider bar a green color). There are other settings on this page that you can ignore at this point but you should consider changing later. To learn about each of those settings, go to Google’s Help Forum page. Click the Back arrow when you are done with this page.
  6. With Auto Backup turned on, several new options appear on the Camera and Photos page. Auto Enhance tells Google to enhance each photo. I leave this turned off because I want to have the original photo that I can choose to modify later. Auto Awesome is literally awesome! It will add effects to your photos where it finds it to be appropriate. Have a photo of you outside with snow on the ground? It will add falling snow to your photo – literally, animated snow will continue to fall. Awesome! You still retain the original photo because the Awesomed photo is created in addition to the original.

That’s it! All of your photos will back up each time your iPad is connected to Wi Fi. They are stored online so all of your photos are still accessible on your iPad, but now you can delete the originals to clear some room for other things on your iPad.

Refer to Google’s Help Forum page titled Turn Auto Backup on or off for more information on all the settings related to backing up photos from your iPad. These directions will work with other devices, too, including your cell phone.