Use of tablets and online journal (digital portfolio) for easier formative assessment of pupils and improving inclusion of children
In order to achieve differentiation and inclusion in the classroom, focusing on pupils is essential. One of the best methods for regular monitoring of pupils’ progress is formative assessment, since it allows them to set their own learning objectives and advance in line with their abilities, with the help of clear and thorough teacher’s feedback. Monitoring pupils’ progress can be much easier and transparent with the help of tablets.
The Osnovna šola Rače primary school from Slovenia, in collaboration with the National Education Institute Slovenia, is performing an innovation project “Using tablets and online journal in primary school” for the third consecutive year. With the project they wish:
- to modernize educational practice at the school,
- to encourage motivation for work among pupils and guide them towards adopting new, different useful (digital) skills,
- to test the usefulness of a tablet and online journal for performing formative monitoring and influence the improvement of inclusion.
Project leader Ksenija Pečnik, an English teacher, says that through their practice, tablets together with digital portfolios, which are a basis for the feedback, proved to be an excellent tool for formative assessment. “For performing formative assessment, the pupils must know what they are going to study and then set the goals they wish to achieve themselves. This is done without tablets. The tablets however have a leading role in creating various products.”
The pupils create diversely comprehensive and complex products by using tablets and various applications, such as:
(PicCollage – http://pic-collage.com)
(Mindomo - http://mindomo.com)
(http://ComicStripCreator.org http://pizap.com, Photo Talks – http://fueneco.com/photo-talks)
- movies/videos (Viva Video, Slideshow Maker)
- sound recordings
- word clouds (Word Cloud, Word Art)
- interactive stories (Draw My Story, ThingLink)
- presentations (Prezi – http://prezi.com)
- talking images
- picture stories
The teacher determines a specific theme, content emphasis and the application (which is chosen with regard to content, purpose and goal), and gives oral and written instruction that apply to everyone, while the pupils decide how extensive and in-depth their final product is going to be. Criteria which affects the final grade is created together with the pupils.
The criteria are then written on the whiteboard (how many images, slides, etc. the product must include, how much new vocabulary it should contain, which grammatical structures it should cover, while the text must be spelled properly as the pupils have access to an online dictionary, etc). All instructions and criteria are also available to pupils at all time on the school’s special website, while the teacher is also reachable for any additional explanations by e-mail.
The pupils can work individually, in pairs, with the help of the teacher or in a group. Those who cannot create a product in specific application can also use another application and create a different type of product (for example, a photograph instead of a video; if someone stutters they do not have to record a speech but can only describe the theme). In their work, pupils can use the internet, e-dictionary, maps, etc. “We must understand that every child has their own strong and weak points. By using tablets, which are a popular accessory among pupils, they work and learn with a greater enthusiasm, and in a manner that suits them.”
Each pupil creates a digital portfolio at the beginning of a school year with the help of a Google account in the Padlet application, where he stores products created during the learning process. With the help of a digital portfolio the teacher then monitors progress and achieved goals of every pupil through the entire school year, and can provide regular feedback and comments about his products, so he can improve them. Pupils mostly receive oral feedback and if they wish, also via e-mail. In case of e-quizzes (Kahoot – http://kahoot.com, Socrative – http://www.socrative.com), which are used primarily for evaluation of reading comprehension, the pupils receive feedback via tablets.
Moreover, the teacher’s role in this kind of work is limited to guiding and coordination of learning. This is namely research-based and collaboration learning, which stimulates creativity and critical thinking of pupils. The lesson is more dynamic, since it is co-designed by the pupils with their suggestions and Country of original problem solutions. Independent and creative problem solving motivates them, allows independent development and teaches them to be persistent. The teacher influences the entire educational process and individual actions, and at the same time makes the pupil a center of the process, while he is there to offer constant professional support.
“It is very important that the pupils collaborate with each other. Someone is good in technology and someone is good in languages, and they complement one another. We noticed that Roma are very skillful with mobile phones and are much more successful in such work. At the same time, they collaborate with generally more successful pupils who are not as skillful with tablets,” Pečnik describes influence of this type of work on inclusion of pupils in the classroom.
According to Pečnik, this type of work best addresses the technically skilled and handy pupils who browse the internet often and have their own sources of information, pupils who like to play games, and also everyone who love to play since they perceive such type of work as a game. “At the same time, this type of work is appropriate for auditory, visual and kinesthetic types of learners, since we can use tablet to engage all types. I also see the advantage of such dynamic work for motorically restless pupils. Unfortunately, this type of work is less suitable for static pupils who prefer routine and do not like change. It also confuses those with suspicion for autism and very slow learners,” says Pečnik.
Ksenija Pečnik teaches English from 6th to 9th grade at the school. In the 8th and 9th grade they are performing streamed classes, while the 6th and 7th grades are heterogeneous. The 24 tablets at the school were purchases with the help of a sponsor, a local company, while the teachers borrow them from each other. In each classroom there is a Wi-Fi internet, a portable computer, an interactive board, a projector and a big touch screen. Each year the project leader, English teacher Ksenija Pečnik, also prepares a course on the topic, however still only a few teachers use tablets in class.