Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tweaking Test Taking with Video

Have you ever found yourself reading aloud a test to your entire class because you don’t know any other way to read it for the kids who need it read?  Or how about trying to get every student to take the test at the exact same pace?  We’ve all been there and done that, but there is a better way!  Tweaking test taking can make a big impact on the experience for both teachers and students.  Read through these scenarios and see if you can relate.  

Scenario 1

It is test day.  Some students need the test read aloud.  The teacher hands out the tests and reads over all the questions before the students begin.
Who does this help? Very few people.
Most of the students can’t remember what was read on question 17 when they finally get there. The students who wish to work independently are stuck.

Scenario 2

The teachers reads a question then waits. Then reads the next question and waits, and so on.  
Who does this help?  A couple people.
The independent test takers keep having their thoughts interrupted and get frustrated.
Those needing the test read may or may not be ready for the question, and some even ask for the questions to be read again and again.
The test takes a long time to administer.

Scenario 3

All students take out their tablets and pull up a screencast made by their teacher.  Students begin the exam and are independently working.   If they need assistance, they pop on the headphones, listen to the the screencast of the exam being read aloud, pause the video, and work on the test. They can listen to all the questions as they need them and as often as they wish.  All students move asynchronously through the test.  The teacher moves about the room watching students work on the exam.  What can be better than team teaching with yourself?

I was in the classroom with Meagan Cinfel, 1st grade teacher at Central Elementary School, on test day and was amazed at the shift the screencast made to learner independence.

“I have a student in my class that has huge test anxiety,” Cinfel said.   “She would literally cry when it came time to take a test.  When I got the iPads in my classroom, I knew that one way to help her and every other student was by recording myself reading the test.  By doing this, she was able to go at her own pace, pause the video if she needed more time, have limited distractions and rewind the video as many times as she needed.”

While independence was a planned success, there was also an unplanned success.

“I never thought that I had anxiety giving a test,” Cinfel said.   “After watching my students take a test independently with no distractions, I felt my demeanor change, too!”

The teacher was not on the only one with a different demeanor.

“I will never forget the smile on this student’s face the first time she finished the test by listening to the questions on the iPad,” Cinfel said.   “When I asked her, “How’d it go?” her quick response was “Great!! I usually get scared to take tests, but I feel really good about it now!”  Every time we take a test now, she always asks “Do we get to listen to the questions on the iPad?” Just that simple ten minute recording, that I can use every year, helped this student overcome the fear of test taking.”

Positive Outcomes
  1. Time saving and voice saving.
  2. A room full of independent test takers.
  3. Private differentiation for those who need the support.
  4. All students can work at their own pace without interruption.
  5. The teacher is now free to walk around and proctor the exam.
  6. Lessened text anxiety.


Create a screencast of yourself reading the test questions aloud leaving a few seconds between questions so students can pause the video, rewind, play again, and continue at their own pace.  

Share the screencast to students using iTunes, a LMS, or a link to a YouTube video.  

To check out Mrs. Cinfel's screencast, click HERE.

Software needed:
Screen-Cast-O-Matic (PC) or  Quick Time (Mac).   
You can find details on video creation tools  here.   

Written by Ann Feldmann