Day 23 – Popplet for Alternative Assessments #28daysofwriting Assistive Technology

I mention alternative assessments a lot.

But and it’s a big but (I like big buts and I cannot lie) because there are so many tests and exams embedded into the year nowadays, it is harder for teachers to trust in using a different method which does not fit in with SATs tests and the like. I don’t blame you – for if we are pushing for students to pass tests or emerge as a levelled writer or reader, then by using assessments which do not tally with national guidance appears counter intuitive (the new buzz word).

But, what if these alternative assessments did help the end product? What if, by helping the student think through a process in a way which suited them better, it would eventually lead to a higher level in SATs or GCSEs?

Are there students in your class who are writing content which does not warrant the level you know they are capable of? Are there some students who are not writing at all? Are there students who, as soon as you ask them to write, will play up enough to be sent out?

If you have any students who are not achieving for whatever reason, an alternative assessment may be worth thinking about – just occasionally.

Popplet might be the answer (the lite version is free), it’s the simplest to use spider diagram app I have found (I write about concept mapping in Day 6 using Inspiration – for higher order skills this may be better as it turns the map into a linear format – there is a free version on the iPad which is worth looking at).

In Popplet, you can add text, handwriting, photos, images and change colours. It is so simple to use and my favourite thing? Each new box is called a Popple – how cute is that? OK, I am a stationary geek and this is very similar – you may not be feeling my enthusiasm.

It is worth thinking about Popplet for various alternative assessments:

A series of images instead of writing out a sequence.

Hand in work in planning stage instead of writing an essay.

Group work – using Popplet to plan in pairs or in a group but then allow the student who struggles to use and expand the Popplet (with more Popples) while the other students begin to write.

Teaching staff create a Popplet with images which the student then has to add text to.

If having to analyse a magazine article – let student use a Popplet to answer the questions rather than writing full paragraphs (they could then choose one Popple to write a paragraph about).

Talk through an essay question and the member of staff types in the Popplet to reinforce the discussion – then gives to the student as a writing frame. This may prevent the writing inertia stage some students experience.

Other alternative assessments include:

Video answers – Vlogging even?

A news report – using something like ‘I can Present’ which allows text alongside the video.

Twitter exchanges

Storyboarding – asking the student to plan the story and then write one paragraph from a picture – the overview is there to talk through.

In Romeo and Juliet – students have been asked to write about the Prologue using quotations. Ask student to produce tableaus with quotations instead. Could even be created using modelling clay or Lego?

What do you want from the student at this point in time? (not for SATs or GCSEs – end product) If it is to show understanding, then can they use an alternative assessment?

Clearly they need to practise for tests and exams – but small steps? By using Popplet with just one really good paragraph of writing may be the first step to something of better quality later. Using David Didau’s (@Learningspy) ‘Slow Writing’ could be the next step on from Popplet perhaps?

Do you have any other ideas for alternative assessments? I would love to hear about them.


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