By Stacey Ryan
Part of preparing students for the real world is teaching them to collaborate and problem-solve while working with others in small groups. My classroom model includes a lot of group work where students complete tasks with a partner or in groups of four to six. It can sometimes be challenging for educators to gauge students’ understanding through formative assessments while in this small-group setting. After 17 years in the classroom, I’ve found a few tricks of the trade that allow me to assess students’ understanding in the moment and adjust my lessons on the fly. Here are my tech essentials for formatively assessing students while in small groups.
When students do not actively answer or participate in a whole-group setting, it can seem as if they don’t have a strong conceptual understanding of what they are learning. By capturing students’ learning in a small-group setting and without the teacher at their side, I am able to hear my students think aloud and readily verbalize what they know. By giving real-time feedback, I am able to empower students to take on leadership roles within their group in a setting in which they are more comfortable and confident, while simultaneously identifying areas students are struggling.
The Activate system, Kahoot! games and mini dry-erase boards are all valuable forms of feedback that provide me a clear picture of my students’ in-the-moment understanding, helping to guide my instruction.
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Stacey Ryan has been an educator for 17 years and is currently a 7th-grade math teacher at Andover Middle School in Andover, KS. Her passion is facilitating school innovation, real-world projects, blended learning, and leadership development to make learning relevant and meaningful for students. Follow her on Twitter: @sryanalr.
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