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iPad Assessment Workflow

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been doing a lot of work with iPads in the classroom. Long story short, my principal was able to get a bunch of iPads for my school. To make sure that they were put to good use, she hired me to work with classroom teachers and develop iPad-charged lesson plans for them. The goal was to have the students get used to using the iPads in class and for me to show the classroom teachers how iPads could be integrated into their teaching.

The experience has been amazing and I have really enjoyed seeing both the students and the teachers get excited about using the iPads in the classroom.

Of all the things I’ve shown the teachers, the most popular ideas I’ve shared were those related to assessment. I guess that I had grown accustomed to using my iPad for assessment and just got used to how amazing it is. However, seeing the teachers react the way they have to some of the ideas I’ve shared with them made me remember how excited I was when I first started using my iPad for assessment purposes.

That being said, I am happy to share with you some of the ways I use my iPad to collect proof of student learning.

Before I begin, realize that this “workflow” is a cyclical one. I go through the cycle several times throughout my units and make adjustments as I see fit. The only reason I say this is because I don’t want you to think I do all this once at the end of my unit. Assessment should be an ongoing process. Ok, here we go:

iPad Assessment Workflow

1. Numbers

It’s funny because Numbers is both the start and the end of my iPad assessment workflow. I say it’s the start because I create a new Numbers gradebook for each new unit that I teach. This makes sense since my evaluation criteria are actually based on the learning outcomes outlined in my provincial curriculum (I’ve explained all this in detail in my Purposeful #PhysEd blog posts), and I set those criteria during my unit planning phase (when I actually write out my unit plans).

However, my Numbers gradebooks are equally important at the end of my assessment workflow since they are what provides me with the final grades that I enter into my school board’s system.

Any given student’s grade can fluctuate in my gradebooks throughout the unit, especially since my assessment is an ongoing process. However, once the unit is done and I am satisfied with my assessment (i.e. I feel like I have collected enough proof), the grade in the gradebook is final.

2. Visual Feedback Apps

I try to take quite a bit of photos/videos throughout my lessons. They not only provide proof of what I am observing in class, they can also serve as feedback tools for my students (e.g. my students can look at a video of them playing and then together we can discuss what is going on in the video and why). I also consider apps like Coach’s Eye, CoachNote, Educreations, iMovie, Comic Life, Penultimate, and Skitch to fall into this category of apps. Each of these apps provides the student with some sort of visual feedback, which I consider to be a huge help for both the students’ learning and the teachers assessment of student learning.

3. Google Drive

Now that Google Drive is (somewhat) unblocked at my school board (don’t even get me started on this), I am going to be using its Forms feature a lot more as an assessment tool. Nathan has been doing some great work with Forms, and I’m really excited to start using it on a more regular basis.

Side note: when I got to meet Joël Bouthillette (an amazing francophone #pegeek) at a recent workshop, he brought up a very simple, yet very powerful idea:

Think back to the last time you asked a question to your students to have the reactivate prior knowledge (e.g. “Who can tell me what we already know about Parkour?”) Who answered your question? Probably the same kids who always answer your questions. This is something we see all the time in all sorts of classrooms: the kids most willing to put themselves out there engage the most in class discussions and those who are shy/unsure of themselves remain quiet and/or disengaged.

Now, imagine if instead of asking that question to the whole class at once, you had students pair up, gave each pair an iPad, and fill out a Google Form full of prior knowledge questions. Each pair wouldn’t have a choice but to be engaged in discussion (with themselves) and you would have a much more accurate idea of your students current knowledge (since everyone would be answering).

Like I said, it’s a powerful idea.

4. Evernote

I can’t even explain how much I love Evernote. Even though I was late to join the bandwagon, it has become a key part of my iPad assessment workflow.

Evernote is what ties everything all together. Throughout any given unit, I’m taking pictures, written notes, voice notes, videos (I’ll explain this in a second), scans of student documents, and screenshots of student work (e.g. when I have a student draw out where they should place themselves on the court). It would be a pain to have to sort all of these different forms of evidence of student learning into folders (be it Dropbox folders or actual folders). With Evernote, I just copy/paste all of this evidence into various notes, tag each note with the student’s (or students’) name – I also sometimes create tags for the specific unit I’m teaching (e.g. BballG62013) , and that’s it!

When I need to access the evidence I’ve collected on any given student (like during parent/teacher interviews), I simply do an Evernote search for the student’s name and BAM: Instant student portfolios.

Here’s a few things I learned using Evernote:

a) You cannot include videos to Evernote. However, you can include *links* to videos. If you have a video on your iPad that you think could be a key piece of evidence, upload it to Dropbox, copy its public link, and paste it into Evernote.

b) Tagging students is important, but don’t forget Evernote is equipped with OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Evernote is able to read text in pictures, so you don’t need to add tags to pictures of student documents with the students’ names already on it.

c) Don’t forget about Evernote’s audio notes. Recording a student answering a question or recording your own thoughts on what happened in class (or what’s happening in a photo you also included in the same note) can be a huge help later on.

d) Don’t feel the need to create long notes. I find myself creating a ton of notes in class. As long as you make sure to tag your notes properly (either in class or during your prep time), this is fine. Don’t think of Evernote as a 8″ x 11″ Moleskine notebook. Think of it as a shoe box full of Post It’s and pictures (except that everything in the shoe box is extremely easy to find).

So those are the main tools in my iPad assessment workflow. Combined with my teacher observations in class, this workflow leaves me feeling confident that the final grade I enter into my school board’s system is as accurate as it possibly can be.

On top of that, my iPad assessment workflow allows me to collect so much evidence (in such an organized way) that every grade I enter is very easy to defend (which has come in handy in the past).

So what do you think? Could you see yourself adopting this assessment workflow? Do you have your own system that works better for you? Remember that there is no right or wrong answers: all that matters is that your system works best for you and produces grades that are accurate and defensible.

I’d love to hear how you take care of assessment in your gym/classroom. Please feel free to share your ideas/questions in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

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