Observing and Evaluating Learning in Action

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.05.33 AMThe Teaching Team found that a further benefit of using iPads in maths lessons was that as their students were engaged, motivated and working on appropriate tasks for sustained periods of time – in ways they hadn’t seen when students were working through concepts using a text book, they had greater opportunity during lessons to take a step back from direct teaching, and observe and interact with their students. As well as gaining insights into their students’ mathematical abilities as they listened to them explain an idea to their partner, watched them change strategy in the middle of a game or observed them calculate using a digital number chart, teachers were able to take time to interact with individual students, to question their understanding or provide support or an extension task.

PARTNERThe teachers commented that they consider the iPads helped their students to learn from each other and that, like them, their students enjoyed being able to see their learning. One teacher recounted that in free time, some of her students chose to create and answer their own maths questions on the iPad.

When using the iPads, teachers found that there were many ways to capture and evaluate their students’ learning. It was quick and easy for the students themselves to film hands on activities or use screen capture to record their tasks, and then share their progress and achievement with their class and teacher. Sometimes the Teaching Team would review students’ learning together as a class, watching it on the iPads or Interactive White Board, while at other times they would choose to appraise their students’ work at a later time. While a class review session often prompted valuable discussion, teachers also appreciated the opportunity to play back recordings of their students’ learning in their own time. It enabled them to easily watch the partner2strategies that each of their students used to form and explain even groups, or to listen to who was able to confidently count on, or to add and subtract on a number chart by ones, twos or groups of ten.  They noted that as busy teachers, there isn’t often time to reflect on lessons, and the opportunity for careful examination and assessment of how students were learning added a new level to their reflection.

One teacher anticipated further uses for these documented demonstrations of student learning. She considered how they might be shared on a class blog, showcasing what her students were doing week by week, or how personal selections could be collected as digital work samples for individual students. She also raised the possibility of teachers across a grade being able to easily share work samples with their colleagues, helping them to be consistent in their planning for and evaluation of student achievement.

Video: Kimberly with two students

As described above, Kimberly is able to spend time working closely with two of her students while the rest of her class – as you can hear in the background, are focused on the task at hand.

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