After using thatquiz.org yesterday to “pre-test” my students for an upcoming unit on rational numbers, I knew some basic number theory concepts were lacking. So today, I took my first venture with Socrative, a free app that simulates using “clickers” in the classroom. I searched through countless Word files for a worksheet I created at least a decade ago that presented students with True or False questions like:

- Prime numbers have exactly two factors.
- The first five multiples of 16 are 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16.
- The only even prime number is 2.
- Some factors of 8 are 8, 16, 24 and 32.

I brought this worksheet into the 21st century by converting it to a 10-question True or False Socrative “quiz” for my students to try today. I projected the teacher view on my Smartboard while students used their iPads to weigh in on this 10 question “Teacher-Paced Quiz” in real time.

It rocked.

Watching the bar graph move and dance around as each student answered the question was just plain neat-o. The mini-teaching I did between questions dispelled misconceptions. The best part was, when the quiz was over, they wanted more. “Mrs. Yenca, please?!? One more question?” Or, even better, “Can we do it again? I’ll do so much better next time!”

Wow.

I promised them, since tomorrow is Friday and all, that I will allow them to take the “quiz” again.

Does anyone else find that last sentence a wee bit bizarre? Students who are grieved when a quiz comes to an end…?!? The fact that I am giving a quiz as a privilege… a reward?!?!? Because they asked for it?!?!?!?!?!?!!!

Even more fun, Socrative e-mails me a report of all of my students’ responses during the quiz, in detail. I can see what every student responded on every question. Incorrect responses are shaded red and correct ones are shaded green in the spreadsheet. I couldn’t help but feel empowered when I saw that the first few questions were shaded mostly red… and by the end of a simple 10-question quiz, the tables had turned to mostly green. There, in all its color-coded splendor, was evidence of learning.

Thanks to the iPad, I think I am slowly but surely becoming addicted to formative assessment. I feel like I am catching glimpses of what’s in my students’ brains in ways I’ve never been able to before. I am learning to know my audience better. I am empowered.