A couple of weeks ago I blogged about our first BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) day. When I saw the students’ enthusiasm, and what we were able to do with their Nintendo DS at school, I knew that we would have to do it again. And this week we did!
Between half and two-thirds of my students own a Nintendo DS of some kind, which they all brought to school. Interestingly, a student who had brought his Nintendo 3DS last time left it at home in favour of his younger brother’s regular DS so that he would be able to access the Pictochat feature, which he knew we would be using.
There was nothing earth shatteringly new this time.There was more wonderful oral language as the students talked about their games–something that they were truly interested in sharing with their friends. There was more engagement and more sharing of devices.
Using the DS for Assessment
The best usage of the DS for the day, though, was when we used the devices to help us with spelling. We were working on the long a sound, and ai in particular. In the past, I would say a word such as “rain” and ask the students to “sound it out” and write it on an individually-sized whiteboard, or on our whiteboard-topped tables. Then I would run around checking their words. With the six DS units that I already have in my classroom and the ones that the students themselves brought, every student was able to use a device instead.
They all logged into the same chat room in Pictochat and wrote each word as I said it, but didn’t click on the send button until we counted “1, 2, 3, send”. Although I meandered through the students as they sat on the carpet, checking for students that needed support, watching one of the DS as the chats flew by was a much better way to assess the students’ understanding. Within ten seconds I knew exactly who needed help and with what.
The students helped assess each other as well. “Hey, some people are putting nines instead of p’s”, said one student. I modeled a correct p and that didn’t happen again. “He forgot the i”, commented another. We talked briefly again about how to make the long a sound, and no one forgot to include the i the next time. Because of all the correct answers flying by, students could instantly self-assess as well. Most did not need to have their peers point out their errors–they could see the mistakes for themselves. This held true when we later wrote number sentences to go with number stories.
This is the kind of assessment I want to have a lot of in my classrooms–timely, focused and done by peers and the students themselves. I guess I just have to figure out how to have a class set of Nintendo DS!