Skip to main content

This is a Test... this is only a test...

This post wouldn't have been possible without Eric in our IT Dept -- he fixed a network setting that prevented us from using TakeATest last year... so a huge shout-out to him (he's likely relieved because I've been pestering him for the past couple of years!)
Built into Windows10 (right from its initial release!) is the option to TakeATest -- a way to lock down the device to a single web address.  It shuts them out from any program or content on their device and restricts them to whatever webpage you direct them to -- the only way to exit is to CTRL-ALT-DELETE back to the login screen.  They can't do screen captures, can't open up other pages, print, etc.
In most cases, this has been used to lock down the device and have the student take a Microsoft Forms based assessment (how? click here) -- the student clicks on the link to the Form and they answer the questions, typically multiple choice, short answer, sorting (all automatically graded) and long answer (not automatically graded abut the teacher can go in and assess).  It's a slick little system that our teachers have used and found pretty easy.   You get a nice little visual on the results of each of the questions and an Excel spreadsheet to bring into your assessment collection.

But I'm a math teacher and, in case you haven't noticed, if my students can't use (digital) ink in their learning, then they're not learning properly.  Using paper-based assessments and exams is still necessary because we haven't had a strong way of assessing using the appropriate environment. So if I want to assess them, I need to be able to use ink.  The challenge is that TakeATest requires only one web-link for the whole class, but each student would need their own private space to work in.  Fortunately, the OneNote web app-- and some creativity--to the rescue. 
I created a OneNote in my school OneDrive with a Section for Instructions.  Then I created a Section for each of my students.  Then, I went in and permissioned it so that only that student could edit their section. That process is a little clicky right now and you'll notice I'm waving my hand a bit on how to do it until I get it easier -- but given a little bit of work, it can be streamlined or even automated (click here to create a test OneNote for your class kinda thing).
I put a copy of the assessment in the Instructions section and they have to right-click COPY and then go to their section and PASTE it in.  (They were a little annoyed that I couldn't just use the Distribute function to put it right into their space but this OneNote is not a ClassNotebook.) 

So now, I just use the SHARE option and use that link to give to the students -- with a little TakeATest magic.
Before you give the link to the student, either by email, posting it in their OneNote or Teams, etc, you add
to the beginning and
to the end of the URL.
If you don't want to do that yourself, you can visit Microsoft's "Make a TakeATest" page here: -- it pushes the correct link into your clipboard for pasting into OneNote (or wherever).
So the students click the link and they get a warning pop-up that this app will make changes to their device (this set them off a bit even though I had warned them this would happen).  Then, they have to use their Windows login to get to the actual assessment.  It opens full screen with a reminder at the top of the screen that they need to use CTRL-ALT-DEL to exit.
OneNote Online has progressed far enough that the inking is quite good - it gives students the freedom to write the same math that they've learned rather than reverting to a keyboard/equation editor, which gets in the way of their understanding.
The student had deleted the ellipse, so drew his own.
When they're all done, I go back to the OneNote and remove their permissions, give them feedback and drag their page into their OneNote ClassNotebook.  Like I said earlier, it's a little fiddly right now, but like ClassNotebook, that'll improve over time. 
I think it is critically important to assess students in the most active & open environment possible - and that means allowing them to use digital ink in the same way as they've learned.  If we force them to use keyboards, or only assess them using limited survey tools, we're missing out on a large part of their understanding.


Popular posts from this blog

So you want to hack your OneNote Class Notebook

Taking a brief break from my "Getting Started with OneNote Class Notebook" series (you can start that one here )... This is a little advanced so if you're not comfortable setting permissions inside of Office365 you may want to avoid this.  Or set up a Class Notebook to play with so that it doesn't affect any existing Class Notebooks.  Yeah, the latter is a good option. One of the great powers of OneNote is that you can do some really neat permissioning of the Section Tabs. When the Notebook is created, of course, it gives you an "open permissions" on the Collaboration Space and student-read-only on the Content Library.  And then each student space is wide open to each individual student. But we've found that occasionally you want to mix up the permissions a little.  For example, you could create a space in a student section for your private notes that the student couldn't see, or maybe you want a tab in the Collaboration Space that students cou

Online assessment

Sorry... I forgot I was supposed to write things here :) And thanks to David Cox's recent post on ExamView to prompt me to return to writing ... not to mention that I'm at Educon this weekend and everyone there is a prodigious blogger. But back to ExamView. ExamView seems to be another online assessment tool and David writes how he is using it in his classroom and how he plans to use it. I've been using an alternate tool, MapleTA and had considerable success with it. I think the strength of MapleTA over the other assessment tools is that it is based on the computer algebra system Maple -- and therefore, when you ask a question or the student enters a solution, it can involve any manner of mathematical content. Not just numbers but also algebra and graphs. And we managed to jury-rig Geometer's Sketchpad to provide dynamic diagrams (yes, we'll be switching over to GeoGebra when I find some time). I think the most important aspect of online assessment is the us

Desmos, OneNote & Replay

So using Desmos activities are a great way to encourage exploration and discussion in math class -- if you haven't tried them, I encourage it.  They're collected at  But ... Desmos doesn't give you quite enough.  It doesn't have a way of capturing the work that the student does within their space, and it doesn't allow for annotation of class contributions as we come together to discuss.  Well, not surprisingly, OneNote comes to the rescue.  Using the Windows shortcut Windows-Shift-S it is really quick to snag the Desmos screen and pop it into a waiting OneNote page.  From there, we can grab our pen and (using wireless projection) talk about what all the different responses mean and where to go from there. (An aside : one of the nice features of Desmos activities are the way you can hit PAUSE and it will pause all the screens of the students working.  I always give them a heads up "10 seconds to pause..." and it's refr