When assessing during live virtual learning sessions, keep it simple. Keep your learning outcomes and objectives at the center of everything you are doing. Learning should always be first and tools second.
Once you know what you would like students to learn or communicate during your live virtual learning session, you can then find tools to support you. Lastly, be purposeful in how and why you collect data. Data should be used to inform your instruction and next steps in supporting students; merely collecting data but not using it is pointless.
- Pick only two to four digital tools to use with students during any one virtual learning session. You do not want to overwhelm them or yourself with too many tools.
- Clearly communicate expectations of tool use.
- Find ways to assess both the instructional needs and emotional needs of your students.
- Find opportunities for students to provide each other with feedback.
- Assess what is working and what is not working. Ask students for recommendations.
- Provide multiple modalities of assessment: written, oral, visual, artistic, etc.
- If using polling tools, think about using low-stakes questions so that students will be more encouraged to participate.
- Similar to the normal classroom setting, you can assess and learn a lot about what students know and how they are feeling simply by listening to discussions. Think about how you might capture the data that comes from discussions. Think about how to structure your live virtual learning session so that every participant has a chance to actively participate in the discussion.
- Depending on your group size, provide space for whole-group and small-group discussions.
- Discussions can be done orally and/or in the chat. If done in the chat, think about saving the chat as a piece of data.
- Give participants time to respond to a survey during your live virtual session.
- If used as an entry ticket, use the data to drive your session. You may consider even sharing the data with students, so they know why you are doing what you are doing.
- If used as an exit ticket, use the data to inform your next steps. Even something as simple as a Pluses and Wishes survey can help inform your instruction. Students simply write about what went well during the live virtual learning session (pluses) and what they wish would be different (wishes).
- Possible digital survey tools include:
- Participants can provide feedback and be engaged through the use of digital word clouds. In most word cloud generators, the word(s) used the most are larger and bolder. This can provide you with very quick feedback around student thinking and understanding.
- Think about limiting participant responses to one word.
- Possible word cloud generators include:
Because participants are muted most of the time, using visual cues to assess students’ needs and understanding can be very powerful. In addition, if you record your session, you can always go back through to keep track of visual cues.
- Have participants use emojis and/or reactions throughout the live session to show their understanding, raise their hand, etc.
- Have participants write and/or draw an answer to your question on a piece of paper and hold it up for you and others to see. Make sure they are using a bold writing tool, such as a pen or marker, so it is easier to see.
- If you do not have robust chat/reaction features, paper can also be used in a similar way. Participants can draw emojis and write a word or short phrase to show their understanding or current emotions.
- Have participants hold up cards to show that they agree, disagree, or don’t understand something you are teaching.
Use polls to quickly assess the needs or understanding of a larger group of participants throughout your live virtual session.
- Have participants use digital polls, such as Kahoot! or Poll Everywhere.
- If using a slide deck to accompany your live virtual learning session, consider using polls in tools such as Nearpod or Pear Deck.
- Have participants hold up their fingers to show how much more time they need.
- Have participants complete a Fist-to-Five to show their understanding or how they are feeling, with a fist being very low and a “5” being very high.
- Students can engage in live discussions or chats to gain valuable insight about their own understanding and learning. Both can be done in large groups, small groups, or partner pairs.
- Think about providing a list of sentence stems or a checklist for students to use to help them engage in both large-group and small-group discussions.
- Think about how students can receive feedback from their peers rather than from you. Consider the possibility of having students be the ones presenting or sharing and have other students provide comments and digital feedback/reactions for them.
- Provide time and a framework for students to process what they have learned during discussions.
- Use breakout groups to help foster discussions and feedback.
Oral and written feedback
- Using formative assessment to inform instruction, teachers could provide oral feedback in a live virtual format. Students with similar needs may be invited to a small-group session, where they can be provided with very specific feedback in a smaller and safer space.
- Enhance your live virtual learning by providing written feedback after the session is over.
- Provide oral and written feedback in an asynchronous environment. To learn more about self-paced remote learning and how it can be used in combination with live virtual learning, visit the strategies shared for teaching in a self-paced remote setting.
- Provide students with self-assessment tools.
- Paper copies of rubrics that they can fill out themselves
- Paper copies of checklists
- Paper journal or another form of a tracking/reflecting device
Clearly communicate how nonverbal signals will be used and interpreted during your live virtual learning session. Students can see those signals to inform their self-evaluation.
- If using polls during your live virtual learning session, think about sharing responses and allowing for discussion. Students can self-evaluate based on the poll responses and their own personal response. You may need to help them make the connection.
- Many live virtual learning platforms have built-in formative assessment tools. Many have a collaborative whiteboard where all participants are able to draw, type, etc. Think about how you may utilize the collaborative whiteboard so that students can receive feedback from you and their peers.
- How might you use collaborative whiteboards to engage students in alternate forms of feedback (for example, “Circle the emoji that best describes how you are feeling about…”)?
3-2-1 summary café
- A 3-2-1 summary café could be used at the end of a session so that students can self-reflect. Students write down and/or share:
- 3 things they learned
- 2 things they connected with
- 1 question they have
- Think about ways that they can keep track and reflect on their summaries over time.
- When collaborating in a live virtual environment, it is often difficult to hear everyone’s voice and make sure that all are able to participate. Beyond just small-group discussion, think about how students might be able to collaborate and gain feedback from one another.
- Using engaging and interactive tools can be helpful:
- Popplet – Collaborative mind-mapping
- Shared documents – Collaboratively marking text; creating shared documents or slide decks
- Think about providing live “office hours” for both students and parents/guardians.
- Hold a live virtual learning session for parents/guardians. Allow them to experience and understand what live virtual learning is and how it works for their students.
- Hold live virtual conferences with parents/guardians to check in, give feedback, and learn about how students are doing.
- Call parents/guardians to give and gain feedback around student needs and learning.
Learning management system (LMS)/asynchronous learning
- Consider using live virtual learning sessions along with self-paced virtual learning. In many self-paced environments, there are features for sharing progress with parents/guardians and families.
- Clearly communicate to parents/guardians and families how to access and use the gradebook system.