I had a great time at the 2015 MACUL conference. One of the most exciting aspects of the day for me was Twitter. After Jim Ekdahl's presentation in 504 I felt compelled to create a professional Twitter account, and when I used it at the MACUL conference it felt like there was almost another conference happening on Twitter at the same time! However, I wasn't glued to my phone the entire time. I saw a couple really interesting presentations.
The most interesting one for me was actually one of the recommended presentations given to MACers my Jeff and Rory. From 10-11 I saw Andrea McKay present on what she dubbed "mind-reading." She was essentially showing how to use technology to get a sense of student's understanding. The aspect of her presentation that stood out to me most was gaining an understanding of what students know about topics before teaching them. She does this by creating a true-false pretest in Google Forms. By doing this she can attempt to comprehend what the students know, what they don't know, and how she should then deliver content. It should be noted that these pretests go ungraded. It would be unfair to grade students on content they haven't even been given yet.
I know what you're thinking: I don't have time to grade a pretest on top of everything else! Well luckily Andrea also informed us of Flubaroo. I am pretty sure Flubaroo has come up in 504, but in case you don't remember/know Flubaroo is a Google Forms add-on that can be used to quickly grade assignments. Using Flubaroo almost makes it seem ridiculous not to implement a pretest in class due to its speed in spitting student data back out. Doing this creates student data which was another point in the presentation. However, Andrea made it clear that student data should not just be created to create data. One must think how useful data can be created. For example, you could look at your students' scores on their last test, but what do the scores actually tell you? With something like a true-false pretest a teacher can actually get a sense of what students know by looking at the content in the questions.
Using Google Forms and Flubaroo in this way is how you can read the minds of your students. With a Google Forms pretest used in this manner teachers can move forward with confidence when trying to understand how students approach content. I could easily see myself utilizing this in my own classroom. Often, I'm uncertain what students know coming into class and this would be a great way to learn that information. All I have to do is reserve a laptop cart or computer lab and I can start to become mind reader. Hopefully one day I can turn into a fortune teller.