Sunday, February 19, 2012

Go Paperless!

We recognize that we are living in a digital age; in fact, the way Kelly and I communicate most often is via texting or on Facebook. We share ideas we find on Pinterest. We stalk follow other educators on Twitter. We love living and teaching in a technological time!

We are also living in another teaching age - the budget crunch era. School budgets are down, thus our copy limits shrink year by year. When you teach 55 kids and they need a copy of spelling words each week, plus weekly reading logs, study guides, etc., well... you run out of copies pretty quickly. Giving a good, thorough social studies test takes copies. Copying a reading passage for all of your students? Not much copy quota left. We needed to figure out a way to stop spending $40 a month to pay for our extra copies.

A few months ago, I was letting my mind wander review during a gifted endorsement class, and I was browsing the web at the same time. I googled "apps for educators" and, of course, a million things popped up. Let me just tell you, though, the link I clicked was pure gold.

Have you heard of Socrative? It's AMAZING! It's a great place to make, store, and edit tests and quizzes that your students can take ONLINE. It's paperless! AND IT'S FREE! We just love it.

You can run a test that you write (we've given some 30-question tests on it before), you can run a quiz as a space race for a fun review, or you can put up a single question for a quick formative assessment.

One of my favorite aspects of this program is that it will enable you to download an excel file of the results. Just fabulous!

Students can take the tests on your classroom computers, in a computer lab, or on electronic devices - our students use it on classroom computers and on our iPods and iPads.

Here, I'm going to walk you through how to use this wonderful resource!

 Here's where you can login or sign up. The web address is

 Here is the main menu. You can see that my class number is 6713. Socrative assigns a class number to you. You can change your room number, but in my experience, it's more of a pain than it's worth. I just wrote my class number on the board, and the students know where to look for it if they forget.

You can also see all the menu choices listed.

Here, I clicked on "Manage Quizzes." You can see all the quizzes I've created. Once you create a quiz, you can choose to run it in a variety of ways: student paced, teacher paced, or space race. You can also edit it from this menu.

You can also share quizzes now, which is great, especially if you work on a team. You can create quizzes and share them with the rest of your team members. This is a new feature. Before this, one of us would "write" the quiz, and we'd email it to everyone on the team, and each team member had to go in and retype the quiz in herself. No more of that - woohoo!

 Once you select the quiz, you can choose how you want it paced. I like to select the option that randomizes student answers. If a student is sitting next to another student, even if they are on the same question, the answers appear in a different order.

You can also choose here to disable immediate student feedback. If you want the student to be able to retake that exact quiz, you might want to select this option. Our students love the immediate feedback, so we don't choose this option.

Here's where you can type in a new quiz. You choose short answer or multiple choice. Once you enter your answer choices, just check the box of the correct answer. It's very simple.

This is the Space Race option. You can run any quiz as a game. Students LOVE this! If you have 6 kids playing, you can run 6 teams (each student is his own team) or 3 teams (2 students per team). I project the live results on my Promethean board so students can watch how teams progress!

This is what it would look like on your live results screen. This is just one team. Not very exciting :)

Once students finish the quiz, you can email yourself the report or download it.

Here's what the results look like when you download them. The green answers are all correct, and the red indicates incorrect answers. I can tell at a glance that the first two questions are pretty good, a few kids missed the third questions, the fourth through sixth are pretty good, but I need to work on reteaching that 7th question. I love having data I can use!

I hope this Socrative tutorial has been helpful. Let me know if you use this (or anything like it) in your classroom!