Four Great Tools for Instant Feedback

One of the most important aspects in learning is to know whether you have succeeded or need to continue practicing. Often times, teachers assign homework to students. The students do all of the problems or finish the worksheet, practicing the skill over and over. But what happens when the student practices 20 problems incorrectly? They have practiced failing over and over.

That is where instant feedback plays a pivotal role. When practicing a formula or process, receiving instant feedback lets students know if they are on the right track or need extra help. Students want to be successful. If they get the question wrong, they will want to know why, furthering the learning process. By learning from mistakes right away, students can build success more easily. Trust me, if a student gets a bunch of wrong answers on a math assignment or vocabulary quiz, that student most likely isn’t going to be successful next time. More often than not, that student will think it is too difficult and won’t ever learn it.

Here is a list of different sites that can provide that instant feedback:

1. Khan Academy

I put this one first because it was what allowed me to understand how simple it is to increase student performance. Khan Academy started out as a way for students to practice math concepts. Students can practice new skills and will receive instant feedback. If students are learning a new concept, they can use a hint to understand how to solve the problem. There are also excellent training videos to go along with each exercise. Khan Academy has math missions for each grade level, allowing you to see what foundational skills students might be missing. The data that you get as a teacher is astounding. Use it to direct your instruction!

Because of the success with math, Khan Academy has added content for many other subject areas as well. I have recently been using it as an opportunity for students to practice grammar. Using Khan Academy allows my students to practice grammar concepts with immediate feedback. Because students can move at their own pace, they can often prepare for an upcoming unit as well. By being introduced to the topic beforehand, students are more likely to retain the information the next time because there is already a connection in the brain.

2. No Red Ink

No Red Ink is another site that provides instant feedback in writing and grammar related exercises. There is a premium option that unlocks all of the content. I think the premium content hits some of the more advanced concepts. I find myself wanting to use those when I think about what needs to be practiced. 

You can assign a diagnostic test to see where students lie before you begin a unit. This formative data can help you decide what skills to focus on.

You can also assign passages that focus on multiple skills. The passages are often 3-5 sentences and require students to demonstrate a whole pathway of learning. Testing for mastery in this manner gives you a more accurate result.

No Red Ink also has a writing cycle platform that is only included in premium. I have not yet tried this out, but I can only assume based on their other resources that this would provide excellent feedback on the writing process.

3. Quizlet

If you haven’t yet looked into Quizlet, you should! Often times students need to memorize information. While we don’t want the majority of our assessments to be done this way, there are certain times when we want students to know something in order to apply it later. With Quizlet, you can create study sets for students, such as vocabulary words and terminology (especially foreign languages), states and capitals, stages of a cycle, etc. Students can create their own sets as well so that they can practice what they need to.

Quizlet isn’t just for older students who need to memorize advanced concepts. You can use Quizlet to teach things in younger grades, such as emotions, parts of the body, or word and picture associations.

There are a variety of ways for students to study as well. They can learn the concepts, which will let them see the correct answers. They can choose flashcards, where the term is on one side with the definition on the other. Students can practice writing the answers without multiple choice. They can spell the term given to them. They can play a matching game where several terms and definitions are scattered, and students drag and drop pairs, trying to complete it in the fastest time. Another game is called Gravity, where definitions slowly fall from space and students need to type the answer before it hits the ground.

Lastly, students can take a test. This is one where they can really get good feedback! This can also be an option that saves a ton of time for you. If you are doing a quiz on states and capitals or matching states to location on a map, it can take a long time to grade a whole class. By having students create a test and taking it during class, you can record their grades after Quizlet automatically corrects them! Just make sure that you are monitoring for any foul play.

If you feel like making these quizzes is going to take a ton of time, have no fear. Use Quizlet’s search feature to find what you need. Chances are many people have created similar study sets because they have the same textbook!

4. Spelling City

Now I know there is debate over how or whether spelling should be taught as a subject. I did have a curriculum I needed to follow in my first year of teaching English. The hardest part is that I had a combined 7th/8th grade class with different word lists. Spelling tests took a tremendous amount of time, and for some students, handwriting was a struggle. When I switched to Spelling City, I gained time back. I didn’t have to give the spelling test anymore, and I didn’t have to grade it. Students were able to take their tests when they finished the classwork. When they finished, they saved their results as a PDF and turned it into Google Classroom. Once I began using Spelling City, I saw a tremendous increase in my students’ scores. They had options to practice throughout the week, moreso than “Write the words you missed on the pre-test five times each!” Plus, those students who had little success because they couldn’t write the words were finally able to feel success!

One thing to note is the pronunciation of words. Sometimes students would miss a word because they couldn’t hear it correctly through the speakers.

These are just a few sites that you could use in your class or students could use on their own. By giving the opportunity for instant feedback, students are more likely to prepare for an assessment and take ownership in their learning. If you have other resources to add, please share in the comments

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