This Week in Formative Assessment

2034235c837a9ea3c9c6ce31cb924455This week touched on a very “trendy” topic in education, formative assessment. Formative assessment is discussed at almost every professional development training, observation, and employment interviews. There are so many ways to do this using a number of tools available online, and most are free.

Formative assessment has always been a rather straightforward way to assess and provide feedback to students, but with the wave of technology streaming into classrooms it has revolutionized the way we assess students using this technology. No longer is the method of walking around with a checklist and clipboard and scanning the room the most efficient way to use formative assessment. Today, the best teachers are able to integrate technology into formative assessment to modify instruction and enhance the learning experience for students.

In the video below, I discuss three formative assessment tools that I use in the classroom.

  1. Kahoot!
  2. Padlet
  3. Google Forms


The best formative assessment tools enable instant feedback and data to modify instruction to benefit students. Teachers new to using technology this way should not try to use every tool in Kathy Dyer’s 50 Digital Education Tools and Apps for Formative Assessment Success. Teacher focus should be on how the technology will help students reach the learning target, not just using technology just to use it. I personally like to add a technology tool to my toolbox every year, and am already looking into new ways to use technology in formative assessments in the high school business classroom for next school year.

-John V


Week 3: Creating an Infographic


This week we had the chance to create our first infographic in the IT&DML program. At first this appeared to be a daunting task, as I have never created an infographic before and had no idea how to start one. An infographic is a visual image that represents data and information in a creative way.

The task we were assigned was to create an infographic of a topic we feel would be of importance to educators. I decided to choose Benefits and Best Practices in Blended Learning as my topic. With the widespread use of technology among young adults, more districts are moving toward this model of instruction, which combining traditional teaching and learning with the use of online and digital tools to enhance the learning experience for students.

The infographic maker I chose was Piktochart, and boy did I have a big learning curve using this site. I must have spent two hours just trying to fix the sizing of each block so that they were all proportionate to one block per page. This would be my biggest criticism of this site as it was pretty easy to insert text and media, but when it came to formatting the height and width of each block each time you added a new one, it became one difficult process as it kept bringing the previous block onto a preexisting page. If I create an infographic in the future, it is safe to say I will be choosing a different site.

benefits-and-best-practice-in-blended-learning (1)

Click on the following link Infographic: Benefits and Best Practices in Blended Learning to view the full infographic and its links and video.

Reflecting on the infographic as a whole, I would say that this is an extremely authentic tool to utilize in class, utilizing the Redefinition level in the SAMR model. Having students create an infographic allows them to take their knowledge of a subject to a new level, beyond the traditional essay or research paper. Students can creatively show their knowledge on a topic by including several forms of multimedia to display their understanding of a topic, and teach it to their peers.

As I was completing this project so many ideas were going through my mind about how I will utilize this in my classes next year as a means to evaluate my students in a more creative yet authentic way. I thought the rubric that our Professor, Laura Greenstein, provided made it very clear as to the expectations of the assignment. I hope she doesn’t mind, but I will be remixing this rubric with my high school classes next year. This type of assessment is a great way to assess student understanding of curriculum standards as they are covered throughout a course. I am glad I was able to create my own infographic and experience the creative possibilities making an infographic brings.

-John V


SAMR: Teaching Above the Line

In t58055481oday’s Digital Age we are not short on new education initiatives and teaching models to improve instruction. New and improved methods of instruction are frequently being developed to provide students with meaningful learning experiences to achieve success in (and out) of the classroom.


SAMR is a model that I was not familiar with before this week. After reading and viewing the resources from this week, I am excited at the opportunity to redesign my current lessons and activities to transform the learning experience for my students.


Angry Whopper sandwich, Burger King

The SAMR model can be defined in the simplest of analogies, such as ordering fast food. The customer (student) can order a Whopper from Burger King, rather than making the burger at home (substitution). This order can also be improved by adding cheese to the burger (augmentation). If the customer desires, they can order a Whopper meal that includes fries and a drink (modification). Finally, the customer can order a Whopper meal that they never could have dreamed of, the Angry Whopper meal (redefinition).

Visit my Storify at the link below for a detailed description on the SAMR model and how to best use it for technology integration in the 21st century classroom.

SAMR Storify

-John V


Enhancing a Lesson Using Technology

tech-integration-bloomsThis week’s theme was about taking a lesson we already teach, and enhancing it with technology. Adam Bellow, in the Edutopia video “An Introduction to Technology Integration” states that using technology to enhance the lesson is why teachers should use these tools in make a lesson that lacks technology better.

I chose to use Padlet, a free web 2.0 tool that allows students to create interactive digital posters consisting of videos, images, and text. The lesson I chose was on the forms of business ownership that exist in the United States. In the past, this lesson asked students to compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of each type of business. After reading Shaun Killian’s “8 Strategies Robert Marzano and John Hattie Agree On” I realized that I needed students to build a connection with the content, as best described in Strategy 3: Getting Students to Engage With the Content. I highly recommend this strategy as sImply comparing and contrasting in a traditional worksheet format is not enough. Students need to apply what they have learned in a lesson and create something tangible with that new knowledge to really make a connection with the concepts learned. Not every lesson needs it, but if technology can enhance the lesson in any way, then it might be time to remix said lesson with the use of some form of technology.

In addition to strategy 3, strategies 7 and 8 (Getting Students Working Together and Build Students Self Efficacy respectively) call to use Marzano and Hattie’s belief that allowing students to work together can foster a collaborative learning community, and make students proud of the work they create using their collective minds, building their confidence during the process.


A great way to ensure students are learning using technology is by aligning technology with the current curriculum standards. This way students will be using tools specifically designed to ensure they master a standard with the use of chosen web 2.0 tools or media. Vanessa Vega, in her Edutopia article “Technology Integration Research Review” explains that “digital technologies permit users unprecedented control over the content they consume and the place in and pace at which they consume it.” I feel this statement exemplifies how tools such as Padlet that allow students the freedom to create freely gives them control of how they apply their learning, creating a truly student-centered learning environment that affords students the opportunity to take control of how they learn and what they do with their new knowledge.

The main takeaway from this week was reflecting on my current teaching practice, and how I can improve it, with or without the use of technology. Next year, as I prepare each lesson, the question I will ask myself in preparation is “can the use of technology make this lesson better?” If the answer is yes, then the teachings of Marzano, Hattie, and Vega will come in handy and be put to good use when choosing digital tools best suited to meet learner’s needs and help them reach the expected outcomes under the appropriate learning standards.

-John V

Edutopia. “An Introduction to Technology Integration.” YouTube. YouTube, 12 Dec. 2012. Web. 21 May 2016.

Killian, Shaun. “8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On.” The Australian Society for Evidence Based Teaching. N.p., 17 June 2015. Web. 21 May 2016.

Vega, Vanessa. “Technology Integration Research Review.” Edutopia. N.p., 05 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 May 2016.