I’ve often considered Socrative to be the gateway drug to the world of educational technology for classroom practitioners. It is simple, reliable, and gives you a great resource to judge student progress. You can provide students with instant feedback and you can leave your classes with some readily analysed data and feedback that can inform your planning. Best of all, it works on any popular device and in any web browser. It’s easy and enhances teaching and learning. I even push it to staff who hate technology! It’s a quick win!
If you’re not familiar with Socrative, it is a digital assessment for learning (AfL) tool. By giving your students any device, they can login with your classroom code which is linked to your account (that you can set up in under a minute) and they can then vote, provide text feedback, or take a structured multiple choice test. You can have the data streamed to your browser or any device in real time.
But you’re not transforming learning!
Now…I hear the cynics ask, how is ‘Socrative’ better than mini-whiteboards or voting cards? Tools that are now orthodox staples of effective AfL.
At this point, I wish to stress that, I haven’t removed mini-whiteboards from my classroom. The lesson that this post will examine is a Year 7 lesson about slaves working on plantations c.1840. To check if students understood what a plantation was I had all students show me a brief definition on mini-whiteboards. The whiteboards provided me with quick and instant feedback that would have taken far longer to type and collect on Socrative.
But, where Socrative has really worked for me is in recording data that I need to examine later and, as I will discuss below, by providing the most efficient way to give students ownership over success criteria in their learning.
Giving Students Ownership of Success Criteria
My lesson was on slavery in the American South in the 19th century. For the first part of the lesson, students analysed a wide range of sources and collectively fed back their analysis of sources to the whole class, in real-time, using padlet on iPads. So far, so good.
Then…the critical moment, students had to write a description of a slave plantation. The learning was now going to go completely into their hands.
I wanted to see these students collectively deciding what an effective piece of work would look like before they even put pen to paper. I wanted students to think about what success would look like before they even started writing. What content should we include, and why? What is effective description? What type of language should be used, and why? The end product always benefits from students thinking about how to effectively carry out a task. Also, if this can be done independently, by students, it will always be more successful.
Now I’ve always found getting students to construct their own success criteria for tasks can be a bit of a mess for the following reasons:
- If you collect ideas on mini-whiteboards you’ll be swamped and end up choosing the ideas that match your own preferences. Organised voting can be a complete mess or just lead to the teacher choosing a small sample to vote on. Again, this doesn’t really give students ownership over their learning!
- If you collect ideas through questioning it is often the most articulate students who dominate the success criteria. The quiet thinkers get drowned out – even with a no hands up policy!
- Students are used to external success criteria, and they can get frustrated with generating their own success criteria if they are not fully engaged and feel included in the process.
The solution – Socrative
- Emotive language because it was a bad time
- Jobs and punishments
- A range of suitable wow words (…or adjectives to you and I)