Thursday, July 21, 2011


For a pre-assessment and assessment for learning this tool can't be beat!!!!  Edistorm is a brainstorming online tool that uses sticky notes to put up quick ideas when you put your students in groups, but it's so much more then that.  You can have students do work on it independently or in collaboration.  It has suggestions at the bottom (the bots area that has a thesaurus and related words.  You can have it public or private by inviting people.  It updates in real time when working collaboratively, and I the teacher can be invited in so I can see the work being done.

I asked the students to work in groups and to use colors but I was worried about them changing colors of their friends and such.  The first time we did it, we did an entire class storm, and there were students that were putting up garbage, but it was a great intro to what was inductive and critical thinking and what was just repetitive learning. Then we talked about marking for their solo projects.  I asked students to go into groups of no more then 3.  Then I asked them to do private storms and to invite me in.  Once there I could easily flip from one storm to another to see what they were doing.  But once more I was concerned about one student doing more work then the others.  I asked them to brainstorm at least 10 things each (that was 30 in total) of what they knew now about viruses.  I also asked them to use different colors but to change colors of the stickies was a click of the button, and I thought that maybe their friends (the quick ones) would do the work for their friends, so I wouldn't know for sure who did what.  When 30 ideas were on the bulletin board I asked them to vote and then delete all but the top 10 most voted ideas (once more going over what would earn 1 point, what would earn 3 points and what an excellent posting would be - 5 points).  In the end, students had to print out the summary report for me, and that's when I got what I needed, the names of the people who did what ideas, as well as the best voted ideas (I did not include the names here for protection of the students).  The report comes up with all the people in the group, as well as who created what.  After that, it was easy to put a mark (1, 3, or 5) by each comment and then take the time to discuss with the group why they got that mark.

This project was quick and entertaining for the students, completed the purpose of what I wanted - to assess what students were learning and if I had to continue to teach on the topic, and assessment included who needed more help and who could go on.  It also showed me who needed help to take a further leap of learning - to critically think beyond what I taught.

Great tool, I recommend it for a quick assessment of students.  Just remember that it did take me a day to train the students on how to use it (and no, I did not tell them about how it shows me who did what comment - they learned that at the end.).

Take care.

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