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May 14, 2020

Simplifying Spanish Distance Learning with GoFormative.com

I can't believe yesterday marks the eight week mark of the last day of in-person classes. On Thursday March 12, we got the news that Michigan schools would be closing and our district had one final day of classes that Friday. None of us realized that would be the last time we'd see our students that year or that COVID19 would likely change the face of education forever.

That Saturday in March, I was inspired. I'm tech savvy, I figured, this is going to be fine. I'll use the tools at my disposal to get me through a few weeks of closures. Better yet, I wanted share my distance learning technology ideas with teachers who were understandably freaking out about how to deliver instruction to their kids. I wrote this Secondary Spanish Space post about the four tools that I then felt would be best for distance learning: Google Classroom, SeeSaw, FlipGrid, and Edpuzzle.

Since that day, I've proclaimed to several of my WL amigos that I needed Google Classroom and SeeSaw to combine their forces and make a baby. They laughed, but I was serious. While these platforms worked perfectly for my needs in a brick and mortar classroom, they both left something to be desired for my now-remote learning middle schoolers.


Enter GoFormative.com. No, they're not paying me and don't even know I'm writing this post. I'm just that enthusiastic about it.  My amazing department head and current MIWLA president, Marci Harris, has been proclaiming the wonder of Formative for several years. I was actually an early adopter of it in probably 2015, but, at the time, it was clunky and glitchy. I wrote it off and didn't think about it until me amazing Spanish amiga, Laurel Landrum, convinced me to try it again. Marci is actually so happy to be right that she's taken to Twitter to brag ;)

A week into using it, I'm completely obsessed with Formative. I've decided that it is the best solution for distance learning probably for lots of content areas, but certainly for World Language. Formative encompasses so different styles of activities and assessment styles that are ideal for language acquisition competencies in a one-stop shop that can be posted to any LMS (Google Classroom, SeeSaw, Schoology, or just any website).

Here are five reasons why I think that for as long as we're doing distance or blended learning, you should consider simplifying things for yourself and your students and shift to GoFormative.com, which calls themselves just plain Formative.

1. Efficiency

Before Formative, I was making an instructions slideshow for each lesson that contained a bunch of links and posting it to Google Classroom. The slideshows were time-consuming to put together and kids shad trouble following them.  I would also post the corresponding learning activities to Google Classroom and lots of kids were having trouble navigating the slideshows and all of the different assignments in Google Classroom. Worse yet, the different assignments were cluttering the holy heck out of my GC (Google Classroom) grade book to the point that I was having trouble keeping up and deciphering activities. It was a mess.

Takeaway: With GoFormative, I can put all of the content from all of the different files/ links I was using before into one link. Just one. I post one link to Google Classroom and there is only one thing in my GC gradebook. BAM. Done. The end. It is beautiful and streamlines the whole process for me and my students.

2. Activities for All 3 Modes of Communication

If you follow me, you probably know that I'm IPA-obsessed. If you're not familiar, I'd encourage you to check out my 6 series post explaining the process or look at my thematic IPAs here. I love creating and assessing what students know using IPAs and using a variety of interpretive reading and listening activities. While this looks different with remote learning, I'm working on adapting this process and Formative is going to be key.

The variety of activities that Formative offers for interpretive reading/listening and presentational speaking/writing all within one activity is AMAZING.  Here's a video that shows what some of these options look like:



Takeaway: There are lots of tools that do these things separately, but if you watched the video above, I think you'll agree that the fact that one site can do all of these things is a WL distance-learning teacher's dream.  I love that you can use simple question formats like you could in a Google Form, but with the other types of more critical thinking type-questions, you can really gain a better understanding of what students understand and can do. I love the variety and my students have said they do too.  AdiĆ³s, Google Forms.

3. A Wide Variety of Learning Activities

I could write an entire blog post solely focused on the vast array of different types of questions and learning activities available on Formative.  Here's a menu of what is available, though there's more than what meets the eye once you start to explore and play around.
As a quick explanation, the red column is full of items that you can add as one-way content. Notice the white board option and the audio instructions. YAY! I really like to do audio instructions in addition to type ones to make things more clear and to connect better with my students. 

The blue columns are all of the types of questions you can add, and while some of them are basic (true or false, short answer, multiple choice) others are amazing, especially for World Language.  

Takeaway: YAY! A smorgasbord of activity options. Wait until you play around with it.  My favorites are "Categorize," which  I recently used to have kids sort a bunch tourist attractions into the 3 Spanish cities where they are located based on a reading. "Resequence" is amazing for CI activities, short stories, novels, etc. because they can reorder the events that occurred. "Show your work"  allows kids to draw, type, and add images and shapes onto a virtual whiteboard and for me, this part is reminiscent of my favorite aspects of SeeSaw.

4. Embed All of your Favorite Apps

I love using a bunch of different apps to keep things interesting and I don't bat an eye at using Quizizz, Quizlet, Edpuzzle, Gimkit, Kahoot, FlipGrid, SeeSaw, and a handful of others all within a couple of weeks. But get this! You can embed or link to all of these from within your Formative and the kids don't need to leave the webpage to do the activities!

Within a singular Formative, I embedded Quizlet "Learn" and "Match" activities and an EdPuzzle and both platforms tracked student progress seamlessly without students ever having to switch websites.  I can't tell you in words how ecstatic I was, but it pretty much looked like this:

via GIPHY

Takeway: I've already had students say that they were more likely to complete their assignments in Formative because it's all in one place.  I don't know about you, but anything that increases participation and completion at this point in the year is a win.

5. Feedback

GoFormative.com was really developed as a formative assessment tool, which is primarily focused on giving feedback and allowing teachers to see who needs intervention.  You'll find that even the feedback options in Formative are varied and efficient.  You can grade on a slide scale of however many points you assign, give audio feedback, respond with emojis, an image, and more.  
My favorite part is that I can look at, respond to, and assign points to bunch of responses all at once like you see below. Seeing several responses at once allows me to see which questions are frequently missed so I can reteach.  I also love that when I see a trending correct answer from a bunch of students, I can add that answer to auto-grade to save time so that Formative will mark that answer correct for all students. 


Takeaway: Formative makes grading as detailed or as quick as you want. You can view responses by question or by student and their auto-grading is surprisingly intuitive. The variety of ways you can respond to students is awesome and I appreciate seeing the red exclamation point that alerts me that students have copied or pasted information if you're concerned about plagiarism. 

Summary 

If I had to pick one tool to use in my distance learning classes it would definitely be Formative. I previously would have said SeeSaw, but I've found that for our current situation, Formative solves so many issues in one convenient spot. Plus, I'm not going to lie, but making Formatives is oddly satisfying. Feedback from students has been really positive, they're completing assignments, and several kids said they thought it was more fun. I figured, in this mess, if the kids and I are having fun and I'm removing barriers to learning, it's a victory. I should add that there's a 30 day free trial that I'm currently utilizing, but I will happily pay the subscription cost for the amount of time GoFormative.com is saving me when my trial is over. 

Questions? Thoughts? Please share in the comments section below.  

6 comments:

  1. Excited to learn more about Go Formative. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

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  2. Thank you so much for your information about Formative. I have been desperately searching for a way to create engaging activities and assessments and my head is spinning with all of the choices out there. I can't wait to give Formative a try.

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