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Assessing Science

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Celina Carrasquillo Celina Carrasquillo 270 Points

Hi! I will be student teaching next fall and I am beyond excited! However, I am concerned about assessing my students, particularly in science. If I find that a small number of students did not perform well on a particular assessment, should I take the time to reteach this material to them? I do think it would be beneficial. However, the thought of reteaching each science concept to the students that didn't perform well on an assessment, seems nearly impossible. What should I do when a small number of students don't perform well on an assessment?   

Ebone Eastland Ebone Eastland 595 Points

Hi Celina, I will be student teaching in the Fall as well. I think that this is a wonderful question and I have the same concerns about small groups of students that do not quite understand a topic when the rest of the class has mastered it. While writing reflections on some of my lessons, I addressed this concern with a showing of a video. The only thing that I could think of would be some peer to peer learning. By this I mean maybe allowing some students who understand the concept to teach or explain the concept to the students who may not understand the concept. I think that maybe this would help out in that area.

Sam Ennis Sam Ennis 90 Points

Try the free kindle book on Amazon, "Life Science in Rhyme...." It's worth a try. Could be used as a review tool.

Jay Parker Jay Parker 1375 Points

Hi Celina, I'm a soon-to-be-in-the-classroom teacher as well. One of the things I've seen work really well is pre-testing/pre-assessing. If you start out understanding what your students know and don't know, then you can get a good idea of what things you need to focus on. If you know going into a lesson which students are ahead and which students are behind, you can plan ahead. I think you've hit on one of the central tensions in teaching. We know that we should go back and hit material that students are missing over and over again, but we also have a schedule to keep to, and a lot of content to cover. So how do we balance the two? I think the best way (and keep in mind I'm not in the classroom right now) is to frequently formatively assess your students. If you wait until the quiz at the end of the section, then it'll be really hard to go back over things. But if you assess them at the beginning, and in the middle, and finally at the end, then you'll be able to be agile and adjust on the fly. It's a really good question though, and I'd love to hear more experienced teachers plans for dealing with this problem. -Jay Parker

Kyrston Hickson Kyrston Hickson 1290 Points

I would suggest pairing or grouping so that they can learn from their peers. Maybe group review as a warm-up the next day. Give each group a question that was missed on the assessment. Let them discuss it for a few minutes. Then come together as a whole for a class discussion. Students are learning from each other and getting a review of a the material learned yesterday. Also try assessing as you go along instead of waiting until the end. There are graphic organizers that the student completes as they are learning the material. With assessing as you go when you notice that there is a concept that is not sticking, you can stop and go over it again. You are right you can't reteach every science concept that students don't get. See which concepts have the highest number of students who didn't get it. Then go over those again.

Barbara Force Barbara Force 1335 Points

Hey guys, I just finished student teaching. Assessment has been a weakness all around and is becoming a focus of many education programs. You're in the right place, though! If you find that your small number of students who are not "getting it" are "not getting" the same thing, you may have an underlying misconception at hand. Definitely use your formative assessments. Check out Pinterest and some of the great teacher blogs out there for ways to figure out early if kids are following along. My favorite way to do this was to stop half-way through a lesson (or more often) and ask students, "If that makes sense, show me a thumbs up. If that doesn't make sense, show me a thumbs down." I didn't worry about kids saving face because of the particular setting, and I often saved myself time reteaching the class when I saw that kids were confused halfway through the lesson. I suggest Page Keeley's 75 methods of formative assessment in the NSTA book store. It has some pretty fun ideas for figuring out what kids are confused about. My favorite is the assessment in which kids write their question on a piece of paper, crumple the paper, throw it across the room, and have someone else read the anonymous text. It can save face in a class that may be more judgmental than my students had been. Oh, Kahoot is very fun for assessing student understanding. The drawback is that all the students need access to an electronic device. Remember that the earlier you figure out the students are not getting it, the fewer steps you have to back track. Your host teacher will likely have some tips, too.

Nichole Shady Nichole Shady 595 Points

I love this post. I am getting ready to start my student teaching for my early childhood education degree and am taking classes to teach 4th and 5th grade as well. Assessment is a hard thing for me because if you wait until the end to figure out that students do not understand the material you may have wasted a ton of time. I like the suggestions to frequently stop lessons to check if students are understanding the material and taking the time to re-explain things as they become confused. Thanks for the resources, I plan on checking some of these ideas out.

Amanda Wolfe Amanda Wolfe 16375 Points

Hi Celina, this is so great that you are thinking ahead about your assessments before you even start your student teaching! The best lessons are the ones where the majority of your students get it it.  I agree with Barbara, getting in as many small formative assessments along the way to help build everyone's confidence will pay off when it comes to the final assessment scores. You are spot on with thinking about a reteach lessons. I have had really good success with small group reteach lessons and peer tutoring during my tutorials. Also, I recommend alternative assessments. Sometimes a student may really know the content but be struggling with their English. If the assessment is a test I will sometimes have a student defend their understanding to me in a presentation with a question and answer session.

Jasmin Romo Jasmin Romo 975 Points

Hello, I am still student teaching and I will graduate in December 0f 2016. I have that same problem. I find that sometimes there are only a few students that didn't understand the material while the others passed the assessment. What I have done is that in the morning, my students start of doing morning work (spelling words, practice worksheets, other things to get their brains working) I would just give them practice worksheets on the material that they did not understand as well as pairing them up with a student who did understand the material. Maybe if you have centers or some down time meet with that small group of students and reteach the main points to expose them to the material again. Knowing your students and their learning styles can help a lot when it comes to lesson planning. I hope this helps!

 Erin Collins 1240 Points

Celina, What I like to do to help those that struggled with certain standards/concepts is to have a re-teach/enrich day every couple weeks. This way, I can group my students according to their needs. I can remediate with that small group that needs help while the students that do not need remediation can work on an enrichment activity dealing with the same standard. This way they leave with the same understanding. Some students may just take a little longer to reach that understanding. I hope this helps! Erin

Jane Brooker Jane Brooker 1045 Points

Hi Celina! I have really enjoyed reading through all of the comments on this post. I am in the same position as you and have very similar concerns. With students being at such different levels, it can be extremely difficult to make sure that everyone has mastered the content before moving on. This can be especially difficult when teaching science because the room left for science curriculum in the day is shrinking or non existent in a lot of schools. So do we just be thankful that our students at least were exposed to the content even if they did not master it? Of course not! Unfortunately, I do not know the solution to this ongoing issue. My best advice would be to just do the best you can with the time and tools you have been giving. You might want to consider implementing science learning centers so that you can work with students who are struggling in a small group setting to reinforce and reteach content while the other students are still engaged in meaningful learning. Here is a link to an article I found that illustrates this concept well. I hope this helps!

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