10 Alternatives to InfuseLearning for Assessments

formative assessment tools for teachers

Yesterday, it was announced that InfuseLearning, the popular, free online formative assessment tool, will be closing its doors for good on April 3, 2015. Those that have used it know that it was a great tool for teachers who were looking to gather data on their students to help inform future instruction. However, of late, it did not work as well as it used to, and ultimately this looks to have led to its eventual demise. So, here is a roundup of some of the best alternatives to InfuseLearning.

1. Socrative – It has been around for a while, but the recent 2.0 update gave it a much needed facelift and some new features to boot. It’s free, multi-platform, and a great way for teachers to get data on how well their students understand the content. They also have a great resource page with training materials to help you introduce this tool to others.

2. Kahoot! – If you’ve been to an edtech conference in the last 12 months, the chances are good that you have already been part of a Kahoot! quiz. Kahoot is a gamified approach to assessment, and it definitely adds a fun factor to a traditional quiz. Like Scorative, it can be used on any modern device. Read more about Kahoot here.

kahoot

3. Google Forms – Google Apps schools have been using Forms to collect assessment data for some time now, and over the years Forms has evolved to become an interesting online quiz tool. There are a variety of useful question types that include the ability to add images and videos. Pair it with Flubaroo, and you have a powerful self-grading assessment tool.

4. Excel Surveys – Not a Google school? Microsoft offer their own version of survey tool called Excel Surveys. It is available to Office 365 schools, or anyone with a free personal Microsoft account via Office Online. It lacks some of the more useful options found in Google Forms, but there is still enough to make it worth a look. Read more about Excel Surveys here.

5. Plickers – If devices are not plentiful in your school, then Plickers is exactly what you need. If you’ve never used it before, you will be amazed at how it works. You print out a collection of four sided QR code-like markers for students. They select the answer they want to give by rotating the card to the letter they want to submit, and the teacher scans the cards with a smartphone or tablet to record student responses. Read about Plickers here.

plickers.com

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ABCya! Animation for Kids: Creative Stop Motion Movies for the Classroom

abcya animate

If you are looking for a new way to inject some creativity into your digital storytelling, stop motion is a great way to do just that. ABCya! Animate is a website I learned about from Elizabeth McCarthy on Google+. It’s a free, and engaging web tool that lets students create an animated GIF from up to 100 frames of digitally drawn images, with no logins or accounts required.

The editor has a simple layout and is easy to use. You can draw with pens, brushes or the shape tool. You can also add text and clipart images from the library. When you have the first frame ready, click the “copy frame” button to duplicate it to slide two so that you can add a little more to your animation. Continue this process for up to 100 slides until you have the animation that you need.

abycya animate editor

There are three frame rates for your finished animation – slow, medium and fast – so you do have some control over the final effect. Clicking Export will walk you through the steps of how to save your animation as a GIF file. Wondering how to open a GIF? Almost all modern web browsers will open a GIF file so the student’s final project will be easy to share with others or add to a website.

ABCya! Animate is a Flash based tool. So, although it is great for Mac, PCs and Chromebooks, it will not work on a mobile device like an iPad. However, if you try this on a laptop and decide you would like to use this on an iPad you can check out the ABCya! Animate iPad app. It is available from the App Store for $1.99 and includes the same functionality that you get in the free web version.

I am a fan of Stop Motion movies for the classroom because they are an endlessly creative way to tell a story. Whether you do it as a PowerPoint presentation, a claymation movie, or an iPad animation combined with green screen effects, it is always a great medium that requires students to plan and think ahead to create an effective product. It is also ideal for group work and collaboration skills.

Special Education iPad Apps for Reading and Writing

Recently I had the distinct privilege of working with Julie Freed, Grant Wood’s Assistive Technology guru, to present a number of iPad apps that can be used to help improve the reading and/or writing skills of students in special education. Interested? Here are some of the apps we talked about, along with the reasons why we picked them.

Reading Apps

1. Prizmo ($9.99) – This innovative app includes powerful OCR software that will scan printed text, turn it into editable digital text, and read it aloud for you. In the classroom this can be great for printed tests, worksheets, and even textbooks that might otherwise need a classroom assistant to read them aloud for a student with reading difficulties.

prizmo app screenshot

2. Pocket (Free) – This might not be the first app you think of when think of special education iPad apps, but it has a lot of potential for the way that it simplifies the layout of web based articles and makes  them easier to read. Annoying ads, distracting sidebars, and pop-up ads are gone when viewed in the Pocket reader app and you can also save and organize articles for future use. Readbility is another great app for this.

3. WritePad ($4.99) – It’s a favorite of OTs, and may be just what you are looking for if you need an innovative notetaking app. WritePad uses handwriting recognition software to convert your handwritten notes and turns them into digital text. The more you use it, the more it learns your handwriting style and the better it becomes at converting your handwriting.

4. PDF Expert 5 ($9.99) – Readdle make amazing apps for the iPad, and PDF Expert is no exception. While you could use it to annotate over digital worksheets, a better use of the app might be as a test taking aid, because PDF Expert allows you to add audio annotations. This means a teacher could record questions on a test for a student with reading difficulties to playback on headphones. Alternatively, students with handwriting or motor difficulties could record their answer to test questions right on the PDF, and then email it to a teacher. iAnnotate is a similar app with many of the same features.

pdf expert screenshot

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