Using tech tools to enhance instruction, assessment, and feedback.

by Jane McMahon

Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12


I think it’s important that teachers continue to learn about the latest technology–about the ways that the latest software and tools enhance their classroom instruction and enable students to demonstrate and share what they know.

In my classroom, we use digital tools that engage students and make it easy for them to:

–Link documents, images, videos, and other media objects in a single location to show what they’ve learned;

–Meet together and discuss classroom projects in a digital conference room, one in which I can communicate with different student working groups at once and even print a transcript of each group’s shared discussion; and

–Make their own choices for new ways to share what they know when it is time for a summative assessment.

These tools—and others like them—make it possible for me to assess what my students know and to provide them immediate, focused feedback in ways we couldn’t have even imagined five or ten years ago.


What I did well…

One thing I think I did well was to establish foundational questions when planning instruction — the same four questions we use in our Professional Learning Communities:  What do we expect our students to learn?  How will we know they are learning? How will we respond when they don’t learn?  How will we respond if they already know it?  When talking about using tech tools in classrooms, we can’t lose sight of these important questions!  Secondly, by providing examples of how this simple digital tool can be used across grade levels and across content areas, teachers were able to imagine uses in their own classrooms and beyond.  Finally, when sharing tech tools, it is so important to provide time for teachers and students to get their hands dirty!  By having the audience members actually use the Google Draw tools here, I believe they will be much more likely to incorporate them into their lessons.

What I would do more of or differently…

When introducing a new tech tool, it is important to provide scaffolding to meet the needs of learners’ varied abilities and familiarity with technology.  One thing I would have done differently is to provide participants with a set of directions to help them navigate the Google Draw tools (including screenshots) so they could more readily jump right into the activity.  In hindsight, I recognize that some participants could have used more support in simply finding the cursor or making a comment.  Additionally, I continue to work on asking more clarifying questions, and there was certainly room for more of that here.

I still want to grow this practice by…

Every day new products come along that provide educators with creative and engaging ways to deliver curriculum, monitor student learning, and spark creativity and curiosity in the classroom.  It is important that educators continue to explore these opportunities.  It is also important, however, that we ensure these new technologies afford us the opportunity to monitor student learning, provide actionable feedback, and support standards-based learning.  I want to grow my practice of technology integration by modeling and promoting more quality tech tools!


About Jane McMahon

Jane McMahon is an Instructional Coach and Advanced Learner Coordinator for the Baraboo School District in Wisconsin.  Prior to this position, she ...

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