A quick response formative assessment tool – Plickers

Looking for a formative assessment response tool that does not require your students to have an iPad, PC or laptop? Looking for a tool that still allows you to collect and collate students responses quickly?

Plickers does not require students to have their own device only the teacher. Students need a paper response card to hold up for the teacher to scan using their phone. The paper response cards are free and downloadable from the Plicker’s website.

Below is a Plickers student response card. You will notice that when you set up your classes in Plickers that each student is assigned a number. It is important the student has the correctly numbered card. The card below is card number 1. After a question has been asked the student holds the card up with the letter that they think corresponds with the correct answer at the top. On the card below the letter ‘B’ is at the top. The teacher walks around and scans each card collating all student responses quickly and seeing which students answered correctly or incorrectly. Card sets can be used with multiple classes for example card number 1 can be used across four different classes for four different students.

The videos below shows how to set up an account, classes, questions and scan response cards as well as demonstrating the use of Plickers in a classroom.

 

Plickers Tutorial 2016 Formative Assessment Tool

 
See how a teacher uses Plickers to identify students pre knowledge about a topic before beginning a unit of work

PBAS STEM 6 – DECD STEM Learning Strategy 2017 to 2020

DECD have just released their STEM strategy for the next three years. Below are some of the key points from the document.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-5-39-59-pm
  1. “We know that 75% of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills and knowledge.” Hon Susan Close MP, Minister for Education and Child Development
  2. “It is imperative that South Australian STEM education provides every student with the chance to develop the capabilities they will need, as our future innovators and problem-solvers.” Hon Susan Close MP Minister for Education and Child Development
  3. The economic case for STEM is clear. Between 2006 and 2011 in Australia, the number of people in positions requiring STEM qualifications grew 1.5 times faster than all other occupation groups.
  4. There is a growing need for the broad skills that are fostered through STEM education: “critical thinking and problem-solving, analytic capabilities, curiosity and imagination have all been identified as critical ‘survival skills’ in the workplace of the future.”
  5. The South Australian Government has invested $250m to provide new infrastructure for 139 schools to improve STEM learning in modern, flexible spaces.
  6. All South Australians, regardless of where they live, should have access to the opportunities of the future.
  7. By 2020 there will be 500 primary teachers with a STEM specialisation.
  8. Preschool leaders and teachers will have access to new STEM teaching resources from 2017.
  9. South Australian teachers will use a new approach to learning design, assessment and moderation for STEM education from 2017.
  10. Professional learning resources will be available from 2017.
  11. A ‘STEM play’ initiative will be established within all DECD preschools from 2017 to 2020.
  12. All schools with secondary enrolments will have a STEM career strategy, linked to local primary schools and supported by links with business and industry as appropriate.
  13. All schools and preschools will have a STEM learning focus.
  14. 5% increase in the number of students who participate in SACE Stage 1 and Stage 2 STEM subjects.
  15. All schools with year 1 to 10 enrolments use the new Standard of Educational Achievement (SEA) to measure STEM subject achievement and inform practice.

This is only a selection of the points made in the DECD strategy paper. To read the full document click here.

Where is PBAS heading for the remainder of this year and into 2017?

  1. Joelene and Allan are attending a STEM conference this term run by the South Australian Science Teachers Association.
  2. I am attending the Area Schools Conference which will have a STEM focus including school visits on Monday week 6 this term.
  3. Kelly, Sarah and Tresia are attending “Little Bang Discovery Club” training this term with the aim of running STEM based activities for preschool aged children.
  4. Major redevelopment of existing spaces to support the teaching of STEM will continue in 2017. Current proposals have been put on hold to allow for further research and a deeper understanding of how we can best provide for our students.
  5. The Digital Technologies Australian Curriculum achievement standards and content descriptors are being matched with supporting technologies that will help teachers address the achievement standard. This document will be shared with relevant staff before the end of term 4.
  6. In 2017 teachers will be expected to develop STEM based projects in their classrooms.
  7. While we are looking to improve the delivery of STEM at PBAS there are plenty of activities that we currently do that support STEM. The following are some examples of what I have seen happening:
    1. Year 6 students participated in the primary science challenge in Port Pirie coming equal first.
    2. Year 7/8 English students using an iPad, iMovie and green screen technology to create a 60 Minutes interview.
    3. Year 5/6 students creating solar powered vehicles in design technologies.
    4. Year 1/2 students programming Bee Bots to solve simple problems.
    5. Year 3/4 students undertaking a maths and the Olympics project.
    6. The Reception Year 1 class have propagated their own vegetable garden.
It is important that we begin to consider how we will further support learning and engagement in the sciences, math and technology based subjects. What will our contribution be?

What is S.T.E.M.?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. As part of Aaron’s work with the Trade Schools for the Future he is currently coordinating the involvement of 13 sites and 35 students in the STEM career network which is a partnership between Trade Schools for the Future and Uni SA. Two students from Port Broughton, Tiana Tattersall and Connor George have been accepted into his program so if you see them you may want to congratulate them on their acceptance.

“With 75% of the fastest growing careers requiring STEM qualifications, no other skill set does more to increase the employability of school leavers and no other sets of qualifications do more to broaden opportunities for young people. The 2014 S.T.E.M. Careers Network aims to provide Year 10 students with exposure to these careers before they make choices critical to their career pathway.” http://stemalive.edublogs.org/

One of the projects the STEM students are involved in is the launching of a balloon powered space craft (Wilkins 1) 35km above the earths surface which will then drop back to earth measuring all sorts of data including weather, air temperature, air pressure, oxygen levels and UV light. A video camera will also capture the fall back to earth. This is being funded by UniSAConnect and its scientists and Aaron has worked closely with them allowing the STEM students to be a part of this project. In term 2 week 2 students will be going down to Mawson Lakes to build the sensors and assemble the craft ready for launch in week 9. This is an amazing opportunity for Tiana and Connor and something that will broaden their knowledge, understandings and skills in the STEM areas.

If you would like to visit Aaron’s blog set up for the STEM project click here.

Below is the countdown clock for Wilkins 1 the balloon that is being sent up by the Uni SA team.

Should we rely on technology as a motivator for students?

I found this blog post by Bill Ferriter posted on Twitter by @jennyluca, Are kids really motivated by technology? It got me thinking about the motivating factors (or not) of technology.

Quote from above article – “You can’t motivate students with technology because technology alone isn’t motivating”.

While I’m not sure I entirely agree with this, for example playing Rocket Math on the iPad is more motivating for an 8 year old than trying to do the same math on a worksheet, I do agree with the sentiment of the statement. If we think we can rely on technology to make our classes more motivating without considering the impact of the technology on the learning then we are mistaken. A poorly planned lesson with a tablet/Web 2.0 is still a poorly planned lesson!

Another quote from the article, which I entirely agree with is, “Basically what I’m arguing is that finding ways to motivate students in our classrooms shouldn’t start with conversations about technology. Instead, it should start with conversations about our kids. What are they deeply moved by? What are they most interested in? What would surprise them? Challenge them? Leave them wondering? Once you have the answers to these questions — only after you have the answers to these questions — are you ready to make choices about the kinds of digital tools that are worth embracing”.

For all the technology I have integrated into my classes over the past 12 or so months, at the start at least, I expected the technology to be motivating in itself. Particularly when starting out using a new technology like blogs. I expected the students to be motivated because they were using a new technology, and to a point they were but if I designed a poor task or a task they had done many times before on paper or in a book they soon became non plussed with the fact it was on a blog. In hindsight the technology was more motivating for me than it was the students.

Mobile and online technologies are only a tool, they are not the end point or the major focus of our planning and teaching. Student learning should hold this position, our programming, pedagogy and assessment should be foremost in our minds. Web applications and iPads/Tablets are just tools to help us to achieve these outcomes more efficiently and more effectively.