When I turned 16, like most kids in the United States of America, I took my driver’s test–and, I failed. I went right through an uncontrolled intersection without blinking an eye–let alone slowing down to check for oncoming traffic (Luckily there was none). It was a miserable day for me. I tried making excuses but none justified the tragedy of failing. I simply did not perform well on that test, and I was devastated. I am quite thankful, however, that the man working for the Department of Motor Vehicles did not say “no second chances are allowed.” Rather, he said “When would you like to try again?” I am happy to announce that I am a fantastic driver today. I have never been in an accident nor have I incurred a traffic citation.
I tell every one of my students that story as I explain my policy on second chance tests/projects in my class. I let them know that I want them to learn the concept or improve the skill that I felt was important to teach and assess. That they can take a second chance test or rework the project (Not to be mistaken with a retake that is the same test or just blindly turning in multiple revisions of a project.) if they come to me and look at what went wrong the first time around and we discuss how they can improve.
I did not always offer this element in my classroom. This was an almost impossible task before I was introduced to learning management systems, and specifically before I learned about Schoology. It would involve a mountain of work on my behalf with a 1.) very strong possibility that students would not utilize the opportunity; and 2.) good chance that my second chance opportunity would evaluate their memorization skills rather than an understanding of the concept. With Schoology as a tool in my classroom, it is easy to make multiple versions of an assessment and ensure they understand a concept. The following are ways Schoology has helped make this possible (Any teacher can do these as they were all done with the free version). If you use an LMS besides Schoology, check to see if they have these features too,
How Schoology Has Helped My Students Become Masters
1: Multiple Quiz Attempts
Schoology allows you to set the amount of times that students can take a quiz (Quiz is the term Schoology uses but in reality it could be used for a quiz, test, practice assessment, exit ticket, etc) and how those quizzes should be scored. For instance, I could allow a quiz to be taken three times and the student receives the highest score or I could allow it to average the scores.
Of course, this step alone is the same as printing the same test and having students take it multiple times. Students will simply memorize the test. You can randomize the questions and the answer options (If multiple choice) and this will provide some variety to deter pure memorization, but probably not enough.
2: Question Banks
You are allowed to save resources in Schoology. These resources can range from word documents to video files. You can also save questions and make question banks. Question banks can be organized around concept, skill, or standards. Once you have question banks created, you can tell Schoology to pull random questions from question banks. By doing this, students are assessed on concepts using different questions. Hundreds of versions of a test can be made using this method.
I can set Schoology to provide feedback to my students too. This saves time and makes it manageable to provide specific feedback to a large population of students. Feedback can be offered in various layers. First, I can decide if my students see immediate results on question types that are automated (These include multiple choice, fill in the blank, true/false, matching, and ordering.) Next, I can provide students with text explanations of why an answer is correct or wrong (This is quite useful).
We all know that assessments of the traditional form are not authentic, engaging, nor able to evaluate performance at a higher order thinking level. Therefore, project based learning has a place in my tool box. One that I continue to try to grow. Of course projects, if constructed well, are criteria based and evaluated using rubrics. Schoology allows for the easy creation, storage, and sharing of rubrics. When using rubrics, you as the teacher can provide specific feedback and even upload examples for students to learn from (See a previous post I did on this here.).
Imagine creating a folder of project ideas for students to select from. If they do not master the skills/concepts with the first project you allow them to do a “second chance project” with the requirement that they can not do it in the same form as their first attempt. If this were the case, students may focus more on the evidence needed according to the rubric and realize the various formats that evidence could be provided. Or, give them the rubric and have them come up with the product that proves their learning.
Question: Do you have methods for ensuring mastery in your classroom? If so, what are they? If not, why not? As always, thanks for contributing to the discussion by leaving your ideas and questions in the comment section.