Supporting Students’ Test Taking with Technology Part 1

I hate to admit this, I really do.  I hate to admit it because I am super disgusted when I see kids using technology for test prep and that’s all they use it for.  So don’t judge me too harshly when I spill my guts and tell you that….I’ve been thinking about how I can use the iPads to help the kids get ready for the state testing.

I know that what I’m doing is a far cry from plunking my students down in a computer lab with some program that promises to raise their test scores.  But it still feels a little wrong.  Guilt aside, I have figured out some ways to help them and me through this tough and annoying time of year.

One of the things I’m doing is using Google forms as “answer sheets.”  Back in the day we would have the kids circle their answers on practice tests or fill in practice bubble sheets and they would take FOREVER to grade.  Anything that takes FOREVER to grade never gets graded right away.  Well, what’s the point in even practicing if you can’t get and give immediate feedback?  I created a simple Google form like the one below to act as their bubble sheet.  (Once you make one multiple choice question you can duplicate it over and over and then just change the number.)

Next, I take the test myself and submit the answers so that my correct answers show up in the spreadsheet.  Once the students have taken the test I use a script called Flubaroo which automatically GRADES IT FOR ME!  (Thanks to Jennie Magiera for the hot tip on this one!)  Not only do I NOT HAVE TO GRADE these but I and my students can have immediate feedback.  Everyone missed a question on alliteration?  Great I have an awesome read aloud for that.  Not sure what first person is?  I can fix that too.

This is what the finished product looks like after I run the Flubaroo script.  I have deleted the column with my students names for their privacy.  You can see that the script highlights questions that many students marked incorrect.  It also codes any student who scored under 60% in red.  (none on this test!  Yay, does this mean I don’t have to do any more?)

So while I don’t relish having to practice or even think about tests, the truth is it’s only a few weeks out of the year.  So why not make it an easy and painless process?  Every minute that I don’t have to spend on test preparation is a minute I can spend planning rich, meaningful, and exciting instruction and that’s something I can get behind.

Here are a few videos to help you get started if you’d like to try it out.  Just remember, testing is a genre and it should be treated as such.  We would never teach one genre all year so we shouldn’t focus on test prep all year either. The best preparation to do well on a test is good instruction and meaningful engaging learning experiences.  I will hunt you down and rip that prep book right out of your little hands…seriously.

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