Formative Assessment for the digital learner.

For quite a while I’ve been wishing for a way to ‘marry’ the formative practice we have in our class with the digital environment we work in. At the moment the students often use a matrix that guides through a process of steps in an inquiry or presentation they are preparing.

These matrices , either written by me or co-constructed, are usually word processed and posted on the wall. The students put their name, face or group names on the level they are working at, whether it is at the novice, apprentice, practitioner or expert. This has been a great way for them to monitor their progress, justify why they are where they are and work out what they need to do to get better.

I’ve wanted, though, to be able to ‘digitalise’ this process so they can access the matrix from home, record their progress in their ‘e-folio’s and be able to regularly access it from where ever they are working (They are often working in different classrooms and learning spaces around the school).

Google to the Rescue!

Our school has rapidly turned into a flagship ‘Google’ enterprise. We’ve adopted Gmail and Google sites and we’re slowly building up the wide spread practice of staff using and sharing docs, sites and Blogger blogs.


This evening my eye was drawn to a link (on twitter… say no more) to a google presentation called,
‘Twenty uses for Google Docs in the classroom’.
Thanks to @Jedd (Jedd Bartlet) I was able to see the possibilities of the sharing tool for drawing students into collaborative projects.
The ideas are great! Everything from working on presentations together to adding data on spreadsheets and graphing the results to, what REALLY caught my imagination, creating collaborative ‘revision lists’ (idea #15).

The example shows the students names listed across the top of the spreadsheet and the tasks or criteria down the left. The key at the bottom indicates the students progress in each criteria and the cells were coloured as appropriate throughout the process by the students!

This is fantastic, I thought. Finally a way for the students to work in a collaborative way on a formative, digital, assessment matrix. But…how would we share this matrix with our learning community? We would want to post our progress on our e-folios? This is my goal for the term – to share our learning progress as well as our product.

Enter Google search! A simple question search (‘Can I embed a google doc / spreadsheet into a blogger blog?) led quickly to this blog post.
‘Google docs and spreadsheets in your blog.’
Here the author posts some easy steps to doing just that – publishing any Google doc as html code and embedding it into a Blogger blog post. What’s even more exciting is that the embedded version is not a static jpg image but a movable document with your arrow keys or mouse; great for large docs on a small post space. This is a quick version of the type of thing I want to try and an example of it embedded into a blog.

It shouldn’t surprise me that what I’ve imagined would be useful has already been created and shared. It’s also continued to confirm to me that our decision to run with Google has been the right one for our school.

Have I created the matrix for the class to run with? Not yet. Am I keen to try?… You betcha!

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