Australian students and teachers will start a new school year in a few weeks and I have a feeling it's going to be a good year.
Since returning from a six year hiatus from education in 2012, it's been a steep learning curve.
Things like collecting data and tracking student performance were things I always did but new technologies are now empowering teachers to be able to do this even better.
Two of my favourites are Quick Key and Socrative.
I will be using both of them heavily throughout the academic year.
Quick Key is designed by US teacher Walter Duncan, a truly passionate educator. The app provides a quick (as the name suggests) way to check for student understanding. Using an iPhone or iPad, you can mark a whole class in a few minutes.
On top of the speed of the marking is the power of the data. Once a test is marked, teachers can download detailed spreadsheets letting them know which students got which questions right and wrong so remedial or extension work can be easily targeted.
The big advantage is the only technology students need is a pencil so there's no laptop malfunction issues or students looking at the wrong website when they should be doing a test.
Another useful tool is Socrative. When I first saw the name, I was expecting something to do with Socratic questioning but it's not. It's an online platform for student assessment using multiple choice or short answer format. The teacher controls when students complete the questions and you can see the results in real-time. There are also detailed spreadsheets of student results available, though, in my opinion they're not as powerful as the spreadsheets from Quick Key.
I have used both in the classroom and the feedback from students has been great. They enjoy using the technology and appreciate the speed at which I can give them feedback. Colleagues who have seen me using Quick Key and Socrative have also started using them.
Technology gives us another way that we can become better teachers. Let's use it.