Technology Can Give All Students a Voice

Expert says tech has made it easier to assess learning and empower students.

Holly Clark believes there are three simple things teachers should be doing with technology in order to use it to its fullest: make student thinking visible, give every student a voice and easily share work.

Clark, an educational strategist for EdTechTeam, which bills itself as “a global network of educational technologists,” spoke at the TCEA Convention & Exposition about formative assessment tools that help make that happen.

“You should be hearing from every kid, all day,” said Clark, who is also a teacher at San Diego Jewish Academy. “What do you know? What do you not know? And how can I adjust my instruction in real time to meet your needs? How can I hear from every kid in my classroom?”

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Sharing Work Empowers Students for the Future

Allowing students to share their work, not only with each other but beyond the confines of the classroom, makes them better students, Clark said.

“They learn best from each other,” she said. “And now, I can hear what they said in their response to a question and I can go, ‘Hmm, that was a good way of saying that. I hadn’t thought of that.’”

Clark said she often uses Flipgrid for this purpose, a tool that allows teachers to upload discussion-style questions and students to answer by adding video responses.

“You gotta hear what students are thinking. You gotta know where they are in the learning process,” Clark said excitedly. “In two minutes flat, I can hear from every kid in my classroom; that’s what 2018 has brought us. I don’t have to go home and sit with a bunch of papers and go, ‘Oh God, I have to grade those.’ People used to ask me, ‘How do you know all this technology stuff?’ And I said, ‘I had to find out how to get out of grading homework.’”

Clark said she no longer spends weekends doing lessons plans and wondering how to check whether her students understand their work. Instead, she uses tools such as Flipgrid in the classroom.

“I can do a check for understanding on the fly, and hear from every single one of my students,” she said.

Clark also uses Socrative, a cloud-based student response system where teachers can quickly put together quizzes, for student engagement. She avoids using multiple choice questions, however.

“I have a personal goal in 2018 not to ask one multiple choice question,” Clark said. “When have you ever gotten rich information about student learning and growth from multiple choice questions? You haven’t.”

Check out more of our coverage on the TCEA 2018 conference page.

Photo of Holly Clark by Jena Passut

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Feb 13 2018