The COVID-19 pandemic turned education on its head. For two years, students, parents, and educators did their best to keep up with state requirements with varying levels of success. Some students thrived during remote learning. Other students didn’t attend class at all.
Through no fault of their own, on average, most students are four to five months behind where they would be without a pandemic. This is exacerbated in lower-income areas, where students of families who earn less than $25,000 annually are seven months to one year behind.
What does this mean for teachers who have large classrooms with diverse students? Some of your students are likely on track, while others might need extra help. One of the best ways to understand the needs of your students is to track their progress. By evaluating student progress you can identify problem points that need to be reviewed and individual weaknesses in the class.
Learn how you can set up a student tracking system in your class so you can help students where they need it the most.
Create Exit Tickets
Exit tickets, also called Tickets Out the Door (TOTD), are short tasks that only take a few minutes to complete. Your TOTD could be a few questions from the material taught that day or a pre-assessment for the next day's subject. They can be handed out on paper or completed digitally.
Exit tickets immediately allow you to track what students understand from the current lesson. An exit ticket is a quick, five-minute assignment that students complete before they leave the classroom. Math teachers can create exit tickets with two or three problems based on the day’s lesson. English teachers can ask students to write two sentences or identify grammatical errors in a passage.
Exit tickets can help you plan your lesson for the following day. You can immediately see which students understand the concepts you discussed and which ones need more instruction. If the bulk of your students don’t understand the exit ticket, you may need to spend more time on the current lesson before moving on.
Image credit: TeachThought
Build Google Forms
Google Forms allow you to create surveys for your students. Each student can answer multiple-choice or open-ended questions based on what you are trying to assess. Once completed, all of the submissions populate in one Google Sheet. Teachers can use Google Forms to evaluate student progress while speeding up the grading process.
You can create exit tickets with Google Forms or you can use this tool for other assessment options. The benefit of Google Forms is that all of the responses populate into a single Google Sheet. If you ask your students three questions to track their progress, you can easily sort the answers on the spreadsheet by whether they are right or wrong.
In a world where teachers frequently work late and experience burnout, Google Forms and Google Sheets can significantly cut back on the time you spend grading assignments.
Some educators use Google Forms for pre-assessment. They introduce a concept and ask students to select whether they are familiar or unfamiliar with the subject. This alerts teachers to the amount of time they need to spend on a particular topic.
Set Up Games to Encourage Working Ahead
One of the challenges of leading a diverse classroom is that some students will be bored if they have already mastered the material. This can be frustrating for students who are struggling and for teachers who need to keep these learners busy.
You can create classroom games to keep students engaged and occupied while tracking which students are working ahead. The team at Bored Teachers shared a picture of a Tic-Tac-Toe board with work-ahead assignments. Students that finish three extra assignments in a row can either get extra credit or have their lowest grade dropped.
Games like these can help you see which students might need additional challenges to stay engaged.
Ask Students to Share Their Challenges
One of the best ways to create a healthy classroom is to normalize asking for help. When students realize it’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to not get everything right, they can feel more comfortable reaching out.
Along with evaluations like tests and quizzes, consider looking for ways for students to share what they need help with. Use a classroom polling tool, Google Form, whiteboard, or even stickers to let students share what they need help with. For example:
- List the concepts that will be covered on an upcoming test. Ask students to mark which concepts they need help with. The topics with the most votes are where you should focus your time.
- Use a Google Form to ask an open-ended question: what is the most difficult concept we discussed in this section? Even if a student understands the material, they may benefit from extra reinforcement.
- Use whiteboards for students to write what they need help with the most and the least. Then you can group students together for peer tutoring or small-group learning.
These examples highlight how you can collect data and what you can do with the information you receive.
Collect Data With Reading Logs
If you run a classroom where reading is important, consider how you can collect both quantitative and qualitative data from your students through reading logs. Quantitative data covers the number of books and pages read over a set period. Qualitative data covers the types of books students are interested in and what they learn from them.
Use your qualitative data to create better lesson plans that students will enjoy. If a student doesn’t pay attention in math but loves books about space and aliens, consider developing a lesson that ties the two together. You can look at reading trends and take surveys about student interests to get students excited about learning.
Keep in mind that collecting quantitative data is how some teachers end up building lesson plans around TikTok, Fortnite, K-pop, and slime, so use this feedback at your own discretion.
Use eSpark to Evaluate Student Progress with Games
The examples in this guide show that you don’t have to rely on testing to monitor what students know and how they understand the material. There are unique and engaging ways to track student progress and discover pain points.
At eSpark, we make learning fun. We build standards-based games and other activities that students want to try. When a student masters a concept, our activities introduce new ideas that are a little harder.
With a system like eSpark, you can track student progress without stressing students with more tests. Use our digital reports to see which learners are advancing and which ones need some extra attention. Our technology is data-centric and built to provide clear teacher insights. See what eSpark could look like in your classroom for free today!