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By Chalkup Staff • July 31, 2017

New Book on Formative Tech: Q&A with Author, Monica Burns

formative-tech-cover.jpgFormative assessment is a must for educators, but it can be difficult to judge with all the demands on a busy teacher’s to-do list. In her new book #FormativeTech, Dr. Monica Burns shows how technology tools can energize teacher practice by providing easy ways to implement formative assessment every day.

Her mission is to help educators place tasks before apps and promote deeper learning with technology. Monica has presented to teachers, administrators and tech enthusiasts at numerous national and international conferences including SXSWedu, ISTE, and EduTECH. 

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We were thrilled to hear that Chalkup was one of the tools referenced in the book, so we caught up with Monica to learn more about what inspired her to write #FormativeTech and what she hopes other educators can learn from her experiences.


What inspired you to write your new book, #FormativeTech?

My new book features strategies to make checking for understanding meaningful, sustainable and scalable. I wanted to create a resource for educators that changed the way they think about the power of technology in the classroom and what it means to collect actionable data.


How should teachers be thinking about formative assessment differently today? What’s changed?

Today we can move beyond multiple choice questions to think about a variety of ways to check for understanding. With access to technology we can listen into student thinking through video reflections and screencasts in addition to text-based responses.


How can formative assessments be more interactive for students?

Students can create products that demonstrate their understanding as they engage with content. Interactive formative assessments could include embedded questions within a presentation or using audio tools to record responses.


One of your tips is for students to post to an online discussion thread, when should teachers be thinking of using this?

Online discussion threads give students an authentic space to show what they know and interact with peers. Teachers should think of using this with open-ended prompts at the end of an activity.


What is your favorite example in your classroom where formative really worked for your instruction and ultimately your students?

Giving students the space to draw a response is highly engaging. I led a class of second graders recently where instead of answering multiple choice questions about the water cycle, I gave them space to draw an example on their device which they could combine with text to demonstrate their understanding. Because this was a digital activity I could see their drawings in real time to see who needed extra help.


How does Chalkup fit into #FormativeTech?

I was so excited to feature Chalkup in #FormativeTech because it is a great example of how teachers can check for understanding in an authentic and relevant manner. At the same time students post to a discussion thread teachers can monitor student progress while helping students build transferable skills like sharing, commenting and interacting with peers.

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What did you edit out of this book that you wish you could have included?

It was hard to narrow down to a final pick of teacher stories. This book includes a handful of examples of the ways teachers are using digital tools to check for understanding across the country.


Which other edtech-using educators inspire you today?

My network of fellow Apple Distinguished Educators is definitely a source of inspiration. We connect on Facebook regularly and I check out the #ADEchat hashtag for ideas all the time.


What do you hope educators take away from your new book?

I hope that readers are able to find strategies to put into practice right away. I’m excited about the way technology can elevate and energize the way we check for understanding in the classroom.

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. You can get your own copy of #FormativeTech: Meanginful, Sustainable, and Scalable Formative Assessment With Technology, on Amazon. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.