In an age where students seem to be attached to tech, why not take that as an educational opportunity? With WhatsApp being such a popular messaging app, there is a good chance students already have it. With the free app’s numerous features, it’s a natural choice for communication and more between teachers, students, and even parents. Meanwhile, Edulastic provides an easy way to create formative assessments and analyze data. In his recent edWebinar, Shannon Holden, assistant principal at Republic Middle School in Missouri, described how teachers can use WhatsApp and Edulastic for educational purposes.
Teachers are bombarded regularly with new digital tools for their classrooms. They may already be using an app to keep up with parents, an online tool to have students record and send in answers to questions, or a learning management system to have students turn in assignments. WhatsApp can be used for many of these things combined. Holden suggested getting started by having students (or parents) send the teacher a message on WhatsApp, and then creating groups—perhaps by class—and adding individuals to each group.
It may be a communication tool, but teachers can use it for more. Here are some of Holden’s tips for teachers who want to start using WhatsApp in their classroom:
- Send students a writing prompt and have them respond by describing what they see
- Take this exercise to the next level in a foreign language class by having students respond in a different language
- Have students send in a kind of KWL chart (know, want to know, learned) in any subject
- Organize files efficiently: any documents, pictures, or videos sent through the app will automatically save into a folder
- Start a group with just you in it to type messages and create assignments to send out later, or access those assignments in later years
- Save time by having students send a message of themselves reading a passage from a book, and assess their reading level that way
- Spend less time in class but still keep everyone in the loop by sending videos or documents from the lesson, reminders of materials needed for next class, or discussion questions to think about at home
- Use WhatsApp Web as an option if working from a computer is preferred
Students must be at least 13 years old (in the United States) to use WhatsApp, so Edulastic may be a better tool for younger grades. Edulastic allows teachers to give formative assessments and disaggregate the data. While there is a premium version, the free version has plenty of functionality. Using this tool, teachers can:
- Create classes that can be synced with Google Classroom
- Test their class with assessments from other teachers, or use custom assessments
- Browse a question bank based on subject, grade level, and standards to create assessments
- Analyze the data that Edulastic disaggregates and focus more on things like monitoring student progress, finding trends, discovering level of mastery on the individual or whole-class level
- Provide personalized feedback to students and decide whether feedback from the test will be immediate
- Demonstrate the percentage of growth in students to administrators by using a pre-test and post-test
- Modify tests for other needs like practice modes, extra time, or retaking a test
Holden believes that WhatsApp may be the best app for communication and that Edulastic is a more formal tool for dealing with data and issuing assessments. Both are easy to get started with and offer different opportunities for issuing assignments and providing feedback. Depending on the needs of the class, these tools may be strong candidates for helping things run a little more smoothly.
About the Presenter
Assistant principal at Republic Middle School in Missouri, Shannon Holden has been a high school and middle school administrator and teacher in Texas and Missouri for 20 years. He presents frequently to teachers and administrators about classroom management, maintaining positive relationships with parents, instructional strategies that engage students, and implementing technology in the classroom. He is the host of the Teacher HELP! and TechTools for the Classroom communities on edWeb.net. Follow him on Twitter @newteacherhelp.
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This broadcast was hosted by edWeb.net.
The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.
[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net. View more edWeb.net events here.]
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