It’s reporting time in Australia. It’s a period marked by late nights, long weekends and extraneous amounts of coffee. No teacher likes this time of term. When I first started teaching, I remember dragging home my box of assessments to mark. Not great on the back.
The great news for teachers now is that conducting assessments with the help of OneNote can save your back and your precious time. Read on to learn some of the best ways I’ve found to assess in OneNote.
Creating a self-marking quiz is so simple in Microsoft Forms. You can indicate the correct answer on multiple-choice questions, which will then do the heavy lifting and mark for you after an answer is selected. A test response can offer a little more flexibility, but will require you to check over answers yourself. You can also add questions that use a rating scale or require a date input.
The way you utilise forms will depend on the type of assessment you are conducting and the type of information you are trying to gather. Once you have created your fantastic quiz, you can share it with your OneNote Class Notebook via link, which conveniently embeds the quiz right there on the page. Responses can then be viewed online, or opened in Excel for easy review.
Expert tip: Sharing within your organisation will require students to log in. Doing it this way automatically associates responses with the students who provided them. If you set the quiz to share with anyone with the link, my tip is to make the first question a field for their name – or you won’t know who the answers belong to.
Create a shared space for collaborative tasks
Collaboration is a valuable skill to develop among our 21st Century learners. Group tasks or projects are a wonderful way to do this, but can be a nightmare to mark. Individual student contributions are annotated with student initials in OneNote, so you can see who has or hasn’t contributed to a group task. Adding a little more structure to the space or assigning individual team roles within the collaboration space can help keep things organised and easy to mark.
Expert tip: Tables are heroes in the collaboration space. I like to insert a table and provide a place for each student to respond. This same principle can be used as a way to collect just about any type of student work that pertains to a larger, collaborative task.
Use Writer’s Notebooks and journals with digital ink or touch typing
Despite being as big a technology geek as they come, I still enjoy the way my thinking flows when I put pen to paper. In a lot of cases, technology can be enabling for students, especially those with fine motor difficulties. The ability to type, instead of writing, can allow students with a disability to achieve more than they could before. Equally so, the ability to sketch out thinking or ideas can be powerful.
Writer’s Notebooks are popular among elementary educators who operate a Writer’s Workshop structure. OneNote lets students use a digital Writer’s Notebook, with a choice of using touch typing or a Surface Pen to enter words. I cannot sing the praises of the Surface Pen in OneNote enough. It is like magic to me.
And for teachers, the experience of using OneNote and a Microsoft Surface with a Surface Pen is beyond satisfying when it comes to marking. I love annotating students’ writing, and the benefits of instant feedback are immensely valuable to them. Again, the added bonus here is not having to lug home 30 student workbooks, but instead having a selection of student writing samples just a click away. This approach is not limited to Writer’s Notebooks or journals. Scientific diagrams, concept maps, flowcharts, and mathematical thinking can all be digitally inked in student sections of a Class Notebook.
Go paperless and distribute digitized tests
We all keep previously developed tests, ones that we already know work well, handy for future occasions. Digitising these tests can be as easy as copying them from a Word document straight onto a page in OneNote. The additional benefits here include the ability to add in digital content, such as embedded videos and glorious colour images. Students can utilise digital ink once again, type in responses or drop in other things, such as photographs.
I love creating questions that require my students to draw. This is a very natural progression from paper tests and is an easy way to engage younger students in digital assessment. The introduction of stickers in the Class Notebook add-in makes marking this type of assessment just like the real thing, minus the associated guilt of using what feels like a rainforest’s worth of paper to assess your students.
Expert tip: Using tables to add cells in which students answer questions can prevent formatting complications.
Take assessment on the go with portfolios of student work
When I was starting out as a teacher, my mentor got me thinking about seeing evidence of student learning at the end of a lesson. This type of evidence did not always have to be anything laborious – it could be a simple student product or example of the learning that has taken place. This thinking has stuck with me.
Over the course of a term, I have used the distribution tool in the Class Notebook add-in to distribute small, independent follow-up tasks or independent activities. By the end of a term or unit of work, I suddenly had a whole digital portfolio of evidence to source from – no further assessment necessary. Plan it carefully and that once strenuous reporting time of the term can be a thing of the past.
Considering my advice above, I hope you’ll be able to put much of the stress around assessments behind your back. We may never end up loving reporting time, but we can at least make it easier on ourselves.