Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Problem Attic Assessment Using Smartphones

Hi Sabrina,

Thanks again for creating the Problem Attic trigonometry assessment for our Algebra II class. I appreciate you calling me into your classroom to see and experience the tail end of your piloting the electronic assessment. You had pointed out that it took some time to set all the students up and allow them access to the assessment. You also said that you suspected an error on Problem Attic's part, as nearly all of your students got #13 incorrect. I watched as one student struggled to get his answers to submit properly and grew frustrated at this glitch. Overall, though, I was impressed and excited to launch the activity with my students.

I was very prepared for my students when they arrived: the iPad cart was charging (thanks, Rabbi Pittinsky!), the "Do-Now" instructed students to take out their smartphone or iPad and find (or download) the QR code scanner, and a short checklist written on the board reminded them of what materials they would need for the assessment. I anticipated difficulty with getting the scanners set up, but most students were able to do it seamlessly. As soon as a student had initialized the scanner, he raised his hand and I gave him the quiz questions, pointed out the QR code, and they took off! I helped the two students whose phones or iPads were acting up, and within four minutes, nothing could be heard other than my voice encouraging the students to use scrap paper and write their work on the quiz.

Fifteen minutes into the quiz, I asked for a show of hands to see who had reached the last page of the 13-question quiz. Since only a handful of students had, I told them there would be around ten more minutes of the quiz. Around ten minutes later, students began to submit their answers. I accessed the incoming solutions on the Problem Attic website and, as each student finished, showed him/her the score and which questions they answered incorrectly.
Students made comments like "I really liked this" and "this is really cool" (so we ARE cool!). They seemed excited to learn that I hadn't done this in any other class but was instead choosing to try it with them. I think they genuinely enjoyed using their phones for something educational. The format of the solution submissions seemed palatable to them. Most importantly, though, they truly benefitted from the immediate response to their quiz. "Did you get mine? I just submitted it!" was the refrain among them as they finished the quiz and jumped up to head over to my desk. Mid-way through grading, I showed on the SmartBoard the score results that focused on each problem, and pointed out that 100% of the class got #1 correct, 100% got #2 correct, but only 91% of them got #3 correct. [Incidentally, the website's solution to #13 was incorrect, so I told those students who got it "wrong" that they in fact got it right. I flagged it as incorrect on the website after class.]

The assessment went so smoothly and was extremely effective. Thank you to Rabbi Pittinsky for his help in making it so and, once again, for you Sabrina for insisting the school get the score feature for this wonderful website!

Chag Sameach,

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