Guest Post By Brigid Duncan @MsBDuncan

As the new school year rapidly approaches, some school districts have already begun to carry on classes remotely. Covid-19 has definitely introduced a new paradigm in educational planning and processes. Today, we have two options when teaching in the Fall: asynchronously or synchronously.  The way we choose to assess is also tied into these types of lesson delivery. Here is a graphic I created to help me decide which tool would be helfpul for the different types of assessment.

Formative Assessment & Tech Tools

Learning Assessments

Assessment “Of” Learning: students are not given any choice in their learning. Examples of this type of assessment, we think of state or company (College Board) standardized tests that are given to all students based on their grade level. 

Assessment “For” Learning: introduces limited choices to students in demonstrating their understanding and conceptual thinking on a unit or lesson. Students are guided in their choice by instructor. More formative assessments can be done online, please refer to the table above. 

Assessment “As” Learning: students have more resources and opportunities to exemplify their thinking and understanding. Non-traditional assessments are provided in the form of videos, one minute or two-minute documentaries, webpage creation, poster creation. These formative assessments really “amplify” students’ voice. 

Synchronous or Asynchronous: That is part of the question!

Synchronous instruction is what we think of as face to face classroom instruction, and this can still be achieved even when we are instructing online. The advantages to this type of instruction: teacher can lead discussions, students get instant feedback on their understanding, and teacher can assess and pivot if lesson is not being understood. It also provides for less opportunities for cheating as instructor is present to monitor student assessments.

Asynchronous is when students recieve their lessons on demand. The advantage to this type of learning is that students don’t have to rush to finish as they have less time constraints. It can allow students to go more deeply into the subject being taught when the due date is not by the end of that class session.

Either way, use Nearpod!

I am fortunate to have Nearpod as one my tools. Nearpod allows for all of those pros mentioned previously and students can join with a code. I can use it to guide and assess my students understanding by using countless features offered in their web platform. Fun activities of assessment such as “Time to Climb” (similar to Kahoot) and” Draw it” are interactive assessments. Draw It is where students are given an image and asked to show or draw what they think should be there and is great for math. Virtual field trips using 3D images allow students to explore many topics related to your lessons. Check-ins can also be performed as students can share their feelings and understanding for lesson. Often times, these activities can be shared with student names hidden.  Best of all, Nearpod records student participation in each activity created by teachers and can be used for weekly participation in student grades, and when you notice a lack of participation, it gives you another opportunity to check-in and find out what is going on with your students on an individual basis.

Asynchronous instruction is given to those students who are unable to attend live online classe and Nearpod also offers a feature to meet this requirement. Students will receive another code to that class lesson and can still complete the assessment that you have built into it. The benefit to asynchronous learning is that it allows students to really process the content without time constraints. 

Like Digital Notebooks? Free Templates on My Blog!

Digital interactive notebooks can also be used synchronous and asynchronously. I recently began using Hyperdocs to engage my students in online collaboration and sharing team work through Hyperdoc lesson templates. I created a few digital interactive notebooks on my blog, all free for you. Designs on covers range from elementary through high school. Be sure to grab them here! If you are unfamiliar with Hyperdocs I highly recommend that you visit their website. Many free resources and templates are there for you to re-mix and use.  

Focus on the Process

My hope is that this informational text has provided you with some online strategies when lesson planning for the upcoming school year.  Best advice I have heard from many of the teachers I have had the pleasure of working with in summer PLD is that learning during these unprecedented times should focus more on “process” and less on “product”. Meaning, as we continue online, we may have to pivot our way of assessing and use our time with our students to focus more on their emotional and social well-being and allow for asynchronous lessons to be completed during their flexible time. 

I wish you all a successful new school year ahead.  You got this!

About The Author

Brigid Duncan, Educator, Creator, & Blogger

Brigid Duncan is an AP Econ/Business instructor teaching high school in Hollywood, Florida. Originally from the Caribbean, she pursued a career in advertising and Marketing before transitioning to teaching. She is Mom to three wonderful and energetic teenagers and enjoys being creative, especially in graphic design. Favorite quote: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not’?” – George Bernard Shaw.

Follow her educational journey at @MsBDuncan

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