Smartphones for Teachers – Capturing Evidence of Learning

[Note: I’m saying smartphones. Not Androids, not iPhones, not Windows phones. They all do the same stuff, with a few little differences here and there. Lets not narrow the focus to one particular brand. Although I kinda did that in my last post…]

As promised a few weeks ago, I’ve cobbled together a couple of ways in which smartphones are impacting assessment, sharing and communication around our neck of the woods (a primary school).

Check out my last post for the first half of the story – smartphone apps that can help keep teachers organised, connected, up-to-date, and sane.

But now, here are some of the ways smartphones are changing up the game.

Assessment

We all have to do standardised tests and OTJs, and I think by now we all realise that this just isn’t enough. It’s a narrow view of learning in a mucky system fraught with inconsistencies. I’m not saying they are useless – they have their place – I’m just saying traditional tests and government mandated judgments should not be the be-all-and-end-all.

Assessment needs to be holistic. We need to value competency based achievement and personal growth right alongside traditional academic achievement, on an equal footing.

Smartphones can facilitate the collection of both! Hoorah!

We can snap a picture of a piece of writing, or take a video of a child reading a story fluently, or explaining how they worked out a maths problem and use that as evidence that a child has met certain learning indicators. Use this evidence (along with other evidence – observations, traditional assessment etc.) to triangulate learning goals and next steps.

We can also collect evidence of participation and contribution in a game of tag at lunchtime, relating to others on the soccer pitch on a Sunday morning, collaboration skills during an inquiry, or responsibility and self-direction when working on personal goals.

Capturing team-work and participation                                              Capturing evidence of maths learning

Having a smartphone in your pocket and a quick trigger finger can validate and celebrate a wide range of learning.

It lets you record the hundreds of tiny snapshots, the highs and lows, the triumphs and tribulations of regular school life that whizz past a teacher every day.

Sharing

But then you need to do something with the collected evidence of learning right?

Photos, videos, and audio can be put into an e-Portfolio: a living scrapbook of a child’s development across a wide range of learning areas. Media can also be put onto blogs and shared with parents, often minutes after it was captured. We have a weekly ‘Top Shots’ slideshow we put on our school blog every week filled with the week’s highlights, for example.

                       Capturing collaboration and tenacity                                   Capturing ability to sort and report information

This has been a big hit with whanau. It’s a window into school life, and can pull parents into the fabric of life at school, creating a closer home/school link – a central determiner of a child’s success and happiness.

This has been especially powerful on camp recently too, with teachers reporting live from the field and posting to the blog. Parents have commented that these posts have been reassuring and entertaining, and many have been checking multiple times throughout the day.

                   Capturing responsibility and trust                                     Capturing self-direction and basic facts recall

Communication / Translation

I talked a little bit about this in a previous post, but having quick access to a translation app has been so beneficial to the ESOL learners in our hub. Harder technical words can be translated into the native tongue, so kids can really get a grip on what and why they are learning.

So, there are a couple of ways smartphones can be utilised inside and outside of classrooms. They help you to:

  • stay organised, connected, and enjoy PD in your pajamas 
  • collect, asses, and share a wide range of rich learning evidence. 

tl;dr

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