Choose Your Tools!

Hi all - ok, off we go!  Thanks to Susan Giuliano and Mary Ellen Darling for jumping right into the discussion Next Steps for Selecting Tools.  I have "unstuck" that discussion because I want us to use this page going forward (which I stuck) for the actual discussion of selecting your tools. 

A couple of housekeeping/logistical items first:

--You will see that I stuck the discussion This is the URL for the Online Review Form - where you can find the URL for the form!  DOH!  

--I created a document with all of the possible tools that David Rosen put together and that is posted under Documents.  I suggest you download this page and save it on your computer so you can refer to it as you decide which tool(s) you're interesting in trying. 

--Please use David's discussion Some possible online formative assessment tools, by category to reply with your own suggested tools.  I will make sure that any added tools get onto the list and into our discussions. 

--I originally thought I would load the tools into the system first...but after some consideration I think that's not necessary, particularly since we're going to talk about tools here, we already have David's list to refer to/guide us, and it's unclear which tools will even get selected. 

--Remember that you need to try out 3 tools over 3 months - you can have different students in each round; and you are more than welcome to review more than 3 tools, in fact that would be super!    

--Multiple members can review the same tool!  Optimally, 2 members should review each tool selected, if we can swing that.  I'm also open to having more than 2 members review the same tool, depending on what the tool is being used for.  

--I'll start a discussion thread that will focus on the text-based items in the review form:  Description, Usage, Challenges - for anyone who wants to talk about content, length, style, what to include, what not to include, etc.  


Ok Susan Giuliano is first out of the gate!  Susan you noted that you are interested in Kahoot!, Poll Everywhere, and Plickers.  I think you already use the first two and so if you have used them for at least one month then you can go ahead and write up your reviews.  Go right ahead and try out Plickers as well - looking forward to hearing about that one because I'm not at all familiar with it - it looks pretty cool at a quick glance.  Alrighty then onward!  Check in with us for anything to share, questions, etc.  

Mary Ellen, you are unsure about which tool you might want to try, but you said that your student(s) is at the beginning level.  Ok, so first let's think about what you are focusing on with your student right now:  speaking/listening, reading, writing, math?  Does the student have a particular stated goal for studying with you?  if so, perhaps either the subject matter or the goal can reveal a need that we can possibly fill with a tool.  Does that make sense?  My other thought is not so much focused on the subject matter but things like goal setting and goal tracking - if the student has selected a goal (or needs to/is going to), perhaps we can suggest a tool that helps you and the student track progress toward the goal.  so think about this Mary Ellen and reply with any thoughts or questions and we'll get to the bottom of what would be helpful for you.  Make sense?

Other Micro Members:  please post your replies to this discussion in terms of either naming a tool you want to try or are already using; or like Mary Ellen, let us know what you are focused on right now so we can help you figure out a tool that might enhance your teaching and the students' learning.

Ok go!










My student is struggling with reading and we started at the beginning with alphabetics:  phonics and decoding.  He wants to read manuals for his work and gets stuck as he says he can't memorize all the words and so we are working on the sounds and creating words.  Sounds so simple but I believe he has a reading disability so he sometimes forgets what we did the previous lesson.

Hi again Mary Ellen,

I did some sleuthing and I can come up with many online tools and apps for kids, but nothing specifically for adults.  Many of what I found are not free either.  One app did peak my interest tho:  it's called Phonics Genius by Innovative Mobile Apps and it's free if you have iTunes.  It is for children but what I read and saw could maybe be used with adults.  

anyone know about this app?

But I did think that maybe you could do something with Quizlet - they have flashcards and study games that could possibly address your issue.  Why don't you go to the Quizlet site ( and just see what's there.  then if you find something that you find of interest, you can try that out. 

Do people have experience in using quizlet for reading?  Please share if you do. Thanks!

Hi Mary Ellen,  Good news!  Thanks to colleague Ed Latham (thank you Ed!) we've got a few tools that are focused on decoding and phonics work!  Below I've pasted an email he sent me describing 3 tools that he presently uses with his students.  Let me know if you think any of these might be ones you would want to try.  Cheers!

Marie, in thinking about the phonics/decoding issue you mention, I am currently working with an  adult learner that at the age of 58 has decided he wishes to read. He is finding success in using this site:

he will open up a dolch word list, lets say 1st grade for example and then click on one of the links which brings up a list of words. He looks over the words and writes down the ones he feels he can pronounce and recognize. The other words he puts on a separate sheet of paper. Then he will click on each word he thought he knew to listen to how it is pronounced, how it is spelled and how it is used in a sentence to verify if he was correct with that word. If he was not, he crosses the word off his "got it" sheet and then adds the word to his "did not get it" sheet. In doing this once a week, he is then able to share with me each week which words he is not getting to find trends, sounds/symbols we can work on. Then he goes back to revisit a word list a week or so later to see what improvements are there. Every week he is seeing more improvements and we both get to see what words/sounds are still causing problems so I can offer additional instruction that hits those weak areas. 

Another resource may dip into the independent learning framework:

The introduction and instructions all have audio as we as textual elements and then the learner gets to manipulate and click around to hear different ways the sounds are put together. 

We are also using Newsela :

I print off the easiest lexile article I can find (for every article there are levels in the right side margin) and the student will work on reading it aloud to me. As I listen to him read, I am hearing sound combinations or symbols he is not familiar with. When he has read through the piece once, I work on those sounds/symbols using other similar words. Then he goes back and reads the article aloud with me again with better fluency. He is still working so hard on sight words and phonetics that comprehension is pretty nill, but we are finding progress and successes with his sight words and phonetic library. 


Hi Mary Ellen, Fantastic!  Glad we found some for you and glad you're psyched about them!   Ok, good luck and report in when you can/need to.  As always, if you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to ask! 

Hello! Marie. I have been using Padlet for some months now with success. I would like to try Flubaroo (This is not on David's list but I have already read about it and like its features), and Quizlet. Another tool which I would suggest Is SurveyMonkey. available at  (So please add to David's List Flubaroo available at and SurveyMonkey).

Thank you,



Hi Wycliff,

Ok, super!  Since you've been using Padlet for a while now, you can go over to the review form and write in your review.  And feel free to launch into exploring both flubaroo and quizlet, that's great.  I know survey monkey and it's a super great tool, really easy - you can add that onto your to-try list if you would like.  Keep us informed how you're doing ok? 

I'll add the new suggestions to our running list started by David. Thanks.

Anyone else using any of these tools and want to either do a review, try one out, or just comment?  Much appreciated if so..




I have seen Padlet but have not used it in the classroom.  Thought it was mostly used for iPads.  Looking forward to seeing how you use it in the classroom and how you get it to your students.  Thanks!  

I've used Padlet, Kahoot, and Quia in my grad school assignments. I've also used Zaption once in my ESL class and Polleverywhere in my presentation at CATESOL. Padlet was the only one I used over a longer period of time, everything else was a one-shot deal. I'd like to try out these tools for this evaluation process: Socrative, Quizlet, Zaption, and Formative.

Jacqueline Vulcano

Hi Jacqueline, Ok, great!  You can go right ahead and delve into the tools you listed that you want to try.  Also - if you have used padlet enough and feel that you are able/want to write a review of that tool, please feel free.  But definitely no pressure!  Only if you feel comfortable doing that.

Ok, keep us informed and we'll also check in with you!  If you have questions about the online review form, remember I started a thread just for that.

Good luck!!


I'd like to review Edpuzzle and goFormative.  My students are working on computer skills and only a couple of them have smart phones so l set  it up on my laptop.  If anyone, has other suggestions on how students can utilize the tools, I'd welcome input.



Hi, I recently have been part of the AEL Assessment on line course with Marie Cora. I like to think of myself as a veteran adult educator (currently in my 19th year here in Vermont). As part of the above course, a reading was shared taken from the Spring, 2004, Volume 16, "Adventures in Assessment" published by SABES. The reading is "Integrating Goal Setting into Instructional Practice" and can be found on page 25. The reading was co-authored by staff at The Center for New Americans with multiple sites in western Massachusetts. This piece really resonated with me. I have seen in practice so many times the high importance of good goal setting and the need to use goal setting to drive the learning plan and instructional process. This article again reinforces the need for strong student collaboration in this process as well as the desired student persistence and retention. I urge all of my colleagues to find this article and use the encouragement provided in your work as an adult educator. I am sharing a planning tool below with my thinking about the process of using goal setting as the heart of the instructional process.






Activity Description



Using goal setting to guide and inform instructional practice (based on the reading, “Integrating Goal Setting into Instructional Practice;” By the Staff at the Center for New Americans, Massachusetts, taken from “Adventures in Assessment,” Volume 16, published by SABES (The System for Adult Basic Education Support)







Activity Purpose

(What result are you looking for?)



I am really interested in the process of breaking down the initial, and often very broad goals that students articulate in their first engagement with the adult education provider, and using these broad goals to identify sub and mini supporting goals, with both broad and subsequent identified sub and mini goals being used to guide and inform instruction.

This process is intended to fully involve the students with the co-authorship of their learning plans, guiding, informing, and shaping curriculum, and mapping progress toward the larger student broad based goals.







Class Description

(Level and demographics)



The class is really a series of classes and a way of providing adult education to our students that is responsive and meets their needs. The students drive the developing curriculum and instruction. They regularly evaluate their progress and the direction of continuing learning. The student evaluations help to plot their next steps at the end of each week and the basis of the next body of curriculum.


The student reflections at the end of each week really re-set their next group of mini or sub goals and the teacher in collaboration with the students, resources future curriculum designed and intended to help the student achieve the new group of mini or sub goals.


I like this process especially because of the student involvement and the organic nature that is built into the planning and instruction. The students are genuinely guiding instruction and very strong partners in their broad based goal achievement. This process honors that plans and learning plans are very organic in nature with the student being a strong partner in the planning process. The EFF planning standards of Planning and Solve Problems and Make Decisions are truly integral to this process as well as many of the other EFF standards.







Resources Needed



No resources are needed other than a willingness to listen to our students and join with them in the work of planning, guiding, and shaping their learning








(How will you gauge the impact of the activity on your students?)



I will evaluate this activity by tracking student progress to overall broad based goals as well as the incremental progress measured in student success with mini an sub goals.







Communicating with Students

(How will your students know whether their performance has improved?)



Students are a genuine partner in their learning and because of their active involvement in goal setting, mini and sub goal setting, curriculum choice and planning as well as being co-users of formative assessment that is a natural part of this process, the student stays actively informed during their learning experience.




Adventures in Assessment, Volume 16, will be found online at

The journal, published by World Education, focuses on adult education formative assessment.


David J. Rosen