‘Make it Stick’ by Brown et al is a fabulous book that highlights the need for spacing and interleaving of learning. I am concious of this when designing the curriculum, allowing for tasks that look back, link to and build on prior knowledge. This post is about how i’ve developed the use of google forms to create low stakes testing, that allows students to monitor what they know and don’t know. Although I embrace a project and discovery based approach to learning, I still encourage pragmatic rehearsal and memory and retention of certain knowledge through testing. This blog here by Joe Kirby is about the importance students ‘self quizzing’. Although i’d disagree with much of what this blogger writes about curriculum and how students should learn or rather be fed knowledge. In the blog he writes about using self quizzing for homework, where I would rather it be for discovery or flipped learning. I agree though about cramming, as I design our own GCSE Geography course, it is important that revision is not crammed into the final weeks before GCSE. It would be better for knowledge is retained throughout the course. I will explain how this could be possible using google forms.
I guess, in some of what I am thinking is based upon Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. So my use of google forms aims for students to retain information. However, it also has other functions such as surveys and exit tickets to demonstrate evidence twoards ‘I can’ progress statements as I will explain.
Google forms are easy to set up and with the ‘flubaroo’ app, tests can be self marking. The video below explains how to install this and how students can be emailed instant feedback (thanks Rob G for this). Google forms also allows teachers to analyse data in realtime. Summaries of class responses can give a general understanding of class mastery. Looking at the results and responses using the flubaroo app and link to google sheets creates as spreadsheet for more detailed analysis.
I would ensure spacing of knowledge through the creation of multiple choice knowledge tests. I would use these in several ways. Firstly, forms can be used for knowledge harvesting. Accessing prior knowledge can inform teacher and student what they already know, therefore informing teaching and where students can focus their learning. Students can be retested several times during a unit, with the expectation that they should be getting 100% by the end of a unit. Cumulative testing can take place over the longer term. For example, taking 10/20 key questions/concepts from each unit and testing these over the course of a year or a two year GCSE course.
Forms could also be used as exit tickets on a short term basis. For example, a paragraph question or simple multiple choice could be given and students submit a response, that the teacher can then use to inform future planning. Especially useful at GCSE, where it is vital students understand and retain conceptual understanding and to ensure mastery in preparation for an exam.
Evidence towards student portfolios can be linked to google forms. Where we have students progress measured against ‘I can’ statements linked to students individual trajectories. It may be possible to link a google form allowing students to demonstrate/prove their understanding of each ‘I can’ statement. Alternatively, these could be demonstrated using the RealSmart learning platform with a google form question built in where necessary.
Surveys created by students or for students are also useful, e.g. student voice. See example here.
However, we don’t need to get too obsessed with how much students memorise. Memory in the modern world where technology such as ipads are ubiquitous, means access to knowledge is at a students fingertips. Carefully testing for key threshold concepts in a cumulative test would be advisable. Those concepts that can be applied in multiple situations and deepen students understanding of issues.