As a teacher, I’m pretty conflicted about tests and quizzes. We know that for many students, tests just aren’t the best format to showcase their knowledge and skills. On the other hand, assessments and exams are often necessary for us to monitor student progress, not to mention required by state and federal agencies.
When I first started teaching, I dreaded giving out tests. If my students don’t do well, how do I make sure they see it as an opportunity to grow rather than reinforcing a cycle of defeat? Over time, I realized that formative assessments are a powerful tool (when used intentionally and creatively) to not only provide students chances to strengthen their grasp of academic material, but also to build a positive classroom culture.
When I introduced Edmodo to my students, the Quiz feature changed my teaching practice. Stacks of paper quizzes and scantrons that cluttered my desk just disappeared. Edmodo’s Quizzes offer a variety of question types (most of which are automatically graded) and allow teachers to attach images, videos, sound clips, and PDFs, to the questions. I used the time I saved to provide written feedback on specific questions, which students received digitally through the website or the mobile app.
With these advantages in mind, here are some fun ideas for using Edmodo Quizzes throughout your busy school year, including harnessing the tool for social-emotional learning!
Start the school year right!
1. Conduct a “Get to know you” survey through an Edmodo Quiz!
I love the beginning of a new school year and the chance to learn the unique perspectives and experiences of 150+ young people! I used to give students a paper survey to fill out on the first day of school, with questions like “Be honest, how do you feel about science?” and “What do you like to do for fun?” These surveys gave me a glimpse into my new students’ interests and it tells them that their teacher cares about them as individuals beyond names on a roster.
It was painstaking to read through and keep track of 150+ sheets of paper from all my classes, so the “Short Answer” question format in Edmodo’s Quizzes is a perfect replacement. This allows students to write as much or as little as they’d like for each of the questions and I can easily pull up their replies in my Quiz results on Edmodo and filter by class period.
2. Create a reading companion for the class syllabus
I admit it: reading through the class syllabus can be a bit boring for our students (especially on the first day of school, when everyone is handing them a copy of the syllabus). Even after starting on the first day with a flashy science demo, I still have to make sure they’ve combed through my syllabus.
Instead of reading the entire syllabus aloud to my class, I create a Quiz with various question types that serves as a “reading companion” for the students as they go through the syllabus searching for answers. Questions can range from “Biology is defined as the study of ___” to “Which of the following best describes Mr. Fan’s late homework policy?”
Even though the word “Quiz” usually implies a short but serious assessment, I find that this feature in Edmodo can also be used in any situation where you want to hold students accountable for a particular task while giving them credit for completing it (and the automatic grading saves me a ton of time).
Use formative assessments throughout the week
3. Use Edmodo Quizzes as daily exit tickets or bell-ringers
One of the most important habits I’ve developed as a teacher is sandwiching each lesson with a bell-ringer and an exit ticket. The warm-up helps pique student interest while the exit ticket gives me vital information about whether students successfully absorbed what we covered that day.
Grading exit tickets is no joke, either. My first year teaching, I spent over an hour every day after school grading every exit ticket on half-sheets of paper, pinching myself to stay awake.
Using Edmodo Quizzes for my daily exit tickets changed the whole game! My exit ticket can be as short as two questions if one is a free response, which I’ll spend a little more time providing written feedback — or it can be a 5-question check-for-understanding Quiz with multiple choice, matching, fill in the blank, and true or false questions.
The Quiz results are automatically tallied and I can see at a glance whether any particular concept requires a bit more focus.
4. Give practice Quizzes before the big test!
If there’s one thing teachers know well, it’s that practice makes perfect! In order to alleviate testing anxiety my students feel on the day of a big summative test at the end of a unit, a midterm, or a final exam, I give students plenty of opportunities to “fail forward” and learn from their mistakes.
Unit tests may have to use official school scantron sheets, but my practices quizzes are all hosted on Edmodo. They’re paperless, students can complete them from any computer or mobile device, and the teacher can delete previous attempts so that a student can practice over and over again.
When assigning a Quiz to my Edmodo class, I’ll mark the “add to gradebook” checkbox if I want to record the scores, or leave it unchecked if it’s meant to be a practice opportunity.
Building classroom culture and SEL with Quizzes
5. Help students learn each others’ names
I remember the first day of school after each time my family moved and I was the brand-new kid in a class where I thought all the other kids already knew each other. It was really hard for me as a young immigrant in the U.S. to learn the names of my peers, and looking back, probably hard for them to learn my name too.
The foundation for a positive classroom culture where students feel seen and recognized requires that everyone knows everyone else’s name! While teachers have a full arsenal of strategies to help students meet each other, from randomized seating charts to rotating work groups, I like using an Edmodo Quiz at the beginning of the term to help students match names to faces.
When you create a quiz, you can attach photos to each question. Select “Show results to student upon completion” when assigning the Quiz to your class and the student will be able to see all the right answers after they turn in the Quiz. No other student will know about wrong answers, since only the teacher and student can see their own submission. Students can always find this Quiz in the “Completed” part of their Planner on Edmodo in order to check their classmates’ names in the future, in case they forget!
6. Strengthen class culture with trivia about your students!
As educators, we know that today’s youth are dealing with many sources of stress on top of their academic pressures, whether it’s body image insecurities or social media anxiety. More than ever before, we need to be proactive in our classrooms to foster supportive learning communities and provide students opportunities to develop social-emotional skills. One of the best ways to start that conversation is to help students get to know each other a little better and see the common similarities between them.
I love crowd-sourcing teaching materials from my students. For one, this helps students feel like they’re an important thread in the fabric of our classroom community. I’m often surprised by how funny and creative students can be in their contributions (whether I’m asking them to come up with an analogy for a concept we’re exploring or for them to write a question for the next practice test).
I use an Edmodo Assignment to have students submit one piece of trivia about themselves that people may not know. They can also submit a picture or video attachment to the Assignment if they wish. Then, I create a “student trivia” Quiz on Edmodo using the materials they’ve submitted and assign it to the class. I also use the “randomize question order” option when sending the Quiz, to ensure that students will have lots of opportunity to walk around the room and talk to each other.
This is a variation of the popular “Find someone who…” bingo game that teachers use to help students interact with each other. It can get a little chaotic with students walking around the class and chatting with each other, but building that friendly social foundation for your students and giving them interesting facts about each other sets the rest of the semester up for success! (Plus, it certain reduces the amount of complaining I receive when they get random lab partners!)
These are just a few of the ways you can use the new Edmodo Quizzes, but if you have any ides you want to share or want to see what other teachers are doing, check out the #edmodotips hashtag!