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General Science and Teaching

assessing students

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Arrie Winston Arrie Winston 1020 Points

Why do we always assess our students through paper and pencil quizzes and test? I have been working with Special Needs Elementary students for the pass 3 years now and I have found that it is hard for many of them to be assessed the old traditional formative way. Yes they can write and majority of them can read, but it seemed that they were obtaining more knowledge from  my lesson activities than their test were showing. Now, I am doing more oral testing and projects with them. This is also a great way to keep them engaged with the content that is being provided and remember more that has been taught to them. If anyone has any lessons and different ways of assessing students let me know. 

Susan Duderstadt Susan Duderstadt 2085 Points

Definitely take a look at the man resources on 'authentic assessment,' 'performance assessment,' and 'alternative assessment.' It goes by many names and takes many forms-- essays, interviews, performance tasks, observation, portfolios, journals, etc.

Also check out the Authentic Assessment website by Jon Mueller http://jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/toolbox/index.htm It can be a little difficult to navigate but there's some good stuff in there, including examples and lesson plans.

Kaitlin Wilson Kaitlin Wilson 1295 Points

The webinar I attached below is a useful when trying to distinguish what is an is not an effective formative assessment. The author of the webinar makes it clear that if the results of the formative assessment are not being used to shape student learning, the teacher is using the assessment incorrectly. One way to effectively formatively assess students is through the use of clickers (or paper plickers) to get immediate student feedback on current understandings and remaining misconceptions about the topic.

Jay Parker Jay Parker 1375 Points

Here's an idea, ask your students what they like to do. Do they like to draw? Write? Sing? Speak? A brief survey of student interests can help you come up with new ideas about how to come up with new assessment ideas. The students will also be more engaged with the assessment and take it more seriously, since they feel like they have some ownership over it. I agree with you that pencil and paper tests are often poor indicators of student achievement. Figuring out new ways to provide those assessments can be a bit of a challenge (at least for me, but maybe I'm just uncreative). I think asking students what they like and matching your instruction and assessment to that can be an effective method.

Amanda Wolfe Amanda Wolfe 16375 Points

Hi Arrie, I love that you are striving to make your assessments accessible to your students. I often struggle with the idea that eventually, if they are going to be successful in college, everyone is going to need to be able to be able to fit into that test format of pen to paper. But I see the same thing you do with my English language learners and students who have special needs and started to move towards other types of assessments and more project based units. One thing I really enjoyed was having the students create a video about a biological process they were learning and come up with an analogy for it. This was a great way for them to slow down and process the information while also learning a valuable study skill. Loving the ideas shared here. Keep them coming! - Amanda

Susan Duderstadt Susan Duderstadt 2085 Points

Amanda, that's a fantastic idea. My teenager loves video assignments--and does them whenever she can. I was interested in learning a little more about the logistics of how you do this. For example, are students doing all of the filming and editing in class, or some at home. Are they using a camera, or cell phones or other? iMovie or other editing software? One of the things my daughter and I have been having a lot of fun with is green screen technology. I made some science videos with kids at a summer camp a couple years ago and used "the "magic of green screen" to transport them to various planets, insert them into the biomes (including putting them under the ocean), and even place them on the edge of an active volcano. Each team of 2-3 students did one short segment of a themed video (e.g. For "The Solar System," each group did a planet) I edited the clips together into a single film. The kids enjoyed watching their friends as much as they enjoyed watching themselves. I ended up doing all the editing. However, kids are quick at picking up technology skills, and could probably do it on their own with a little help. Green screens are not very expensive, and I even know a teacher who obtained permission to paint one of her walls green so that she could have a permanent green screen in the classroom.

Amanda Wolfe Amanda Wolfe 16375 Points

Hello Again Susan! Woah!Mind blown! Green screens in the classroom! I love that so much and my students would go crazy over that. I will have to research this a bit and share. I was very fortunate to work at a school where each student got an ipad. The logistics were surprisingly simple in this case. I gave them the prompt for the project which included the audience, purpose and content they needed to cover and they went for it. Some students did stop motion animation while others used computer programming to animate their videos. We went into "project mode" made a timeline for what needed to be completed and by when. Each group presented their own video. They edited in class and during tutorials. Some of the videos fell flat and some were incredible. Editing can be a major time drain because typically only one or 2 students can do it at a time. I would suggest adding extra responsibilities to the group like have them write and present and introduction to the video and develop a survey for the end of the video for the audience. Great sharing ideas with you this week Susan. What and where do you teach? - Amanda

Susan Duderstadt Susan Duderstadt 2085 Points

Hi Amanda, I'm not in a real classroom yet, and I won't be for another year or two (I'm a mid-career changer in an MAT program). However, over the last 12 years I have done A LOT of science lab-related volunteer work at my kids' schools, and at a local summer program for at risk kids. Hopefully all of this will come in handy when I become a "real" teacher.

Charles Eick Charles Eick 1450 Points

Hi Arrie, You may want to look at the following fairly cheap used text on Amazon called Active Assessment for Active Science: http://www.amazon.com/Active-Assessment-Science-Elementary-Teachers/dp/0435083619 It gives checklists, rubrics, and many other ways to assess students from their 'doing' of science and active learning. It particularly goes well with the kit curriculum like Science and Technology for Children (STC) or the FOSS kits too, but is geared for active learning from any science curriculum. Dr. Eick

Kaitlin Wilson Kaitlin Wilson 1295 Points

Dr. Erik, Have you used this active assessment book before in your classroom? If so, how effective was it with your students? By chance do you know if there is a middle school version of this text? Thanks!

Karen Mollway Karen Mollway 555 Points

I will be student teaching in the fall but I worked as a para for fourteen years with students with special needs. I absolutely agree with you. There are many ways to assess a student. I helped teachers assess orally, on the computer, and through drawings and pictures. Now that I will have my own classroom I think that some of the ways in which we assessed students with special needs can be used in a general education classroom. I've seen too many times the look on students' faces as they were handed a paper and pencil test. Plus there are those who have test anxiety. School is hard enough for kids, there are many ways teachers can assess for learning. I think as long as you have a really good rubric and give students clear expectations of what they are to do there is nothing wrong with finding fun and creative ways to assess.

Faizan Khan Faizan Khan 20 Points

In the kindergarten classes I've been in, the teachers always try to make their science lessons into a catchy song or a fun dance. I don't know if this may help but it's an idea. History of memorial day

Rich Sullivan Rich Sullivan 1785 Points

For Middle Grades and higher, it seems that making the connection between science concepts and the students' real lives within their community is key to elevating their understanding beyond just the text book lessons. For example, the article linked below provides a good insight into project based learning and the opportunity for authentic assessment.

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/bringing-authenticity-to-the-classroom-andrew-miller

Susan Duderstadt Susan Duderstadt 2085 Points

The article raises some good points. One of the things that piqued my interest was the comment about having an 'authentic audience' who can provide students with feedback. This can be especially powerful if that audience is an expert in the topic that the students are studying (i.e. someone who actually uses the scientific principles in their job). Many students who work on science fair projects are fortunate enough to be able to work with this sort of mentor. It would be great if this type of experience was available to every student, even at the middle school level.

Panzy Osborne Panzy Osborne 1980 Points

I agree with you, additionally I think that incorporating student's interests and talents into learning activities will help with engagement. I'm doing my Initial Field Experience now, and the students seem very disinterested and lethargic. However, whenever my cooperating teacher makes the content area personal to her life the students appear very focuses and open for discussion.

Kaitlin Wilson Kaitlin Wilson 1295 Points

This book chapter offers similar insight to the article you posted earlier, Rich. I especially enjoyed the suggestion to incorporate "On-the-Fly" Formative Assessment. Teachable moments occur all the time in the classroom. For example, while a teacher is circulating between small "groups to listen in on conversations and make suggestions that give students new ideas to think about." This gives the teacher the opportunity to clear up misconceptions with students on the spot rather than having to wait for a summative assessment to find out that the student has not mastered the content.

Rich Sullivan Rich Sullivan 1785 Points

Thanks for the link, Kaitlin. After looking at the chapter, I realized that I need to review areas of formative assessment in my lesson plan for our upcoming assignment, especially with regard to learning intentions.

Susan Duderstadt Susan Duderstadt 2085 Points

The attached article had some interesting ideas about using summative assessments as formative assessments to help further guide learning. Just because a student did not grasp a particular concept before the unit exam does not mean that it is too late for them to master it. There is a lot that both the student and teacher can learn from those nasty little red marks on a graded summative written exam, which should not just be shoved back into a binder or tossed into the recycling bin. I was especially intrigued by Dudley Herschbach's "resurrection points" (see p. 32 of article), which allow students to regain points they lost on unit tests if they correctly answer questions about similar subject matter on subsequent tests. Being able to win points back for mastery (even if it takes a little work) may be enough incentive to make some students wiling to revisit content they are weak on in the hopes of redeeming themselves on the final. The authors of the attached paper also describe a teacher who, after identifying some of his class' areas of weaknesses on a summative assessment, addressed these through a stations activity where he provided students an opportunity to revisit and "dig deeper" into a concepts that had challenged them in some way. With that said, has anyone on this forum every done something like this? If so, what did you do and how well did it work?

Attachments

Panzy Osborne Panzy Osborne 1980 Points

The article, The Benefits of Formative Assessments for Teaching and Learning, by Nora Bakula, explores how to effectively use formative assessments. The article discusses the results of a 30 day survey used by the author. I enjoyed the article because it clearly explained how the author was able to use formative assessments to cement her student's understanding of density and mass. I was impressed because the author/teacher was able to use a lab as both a learning activity and a formative assessment and was able to really engage her students. This article was a great reminder of the importance of flexibility in the teaching profession.

Panzy Osborne Panzy Osborne 1980 Points

In the article,Visual formative assessments: Theuse of images to quickly assess and record student learning, the way the author is able to so quickly and effectively use visuals such as symbols and diagrams to assess student learning is impressive. I constantly worry that my Ells will always have difficulties with comprehension and this offers away around their limitations. I also appreciated the extension the author offers, with specific regards to Ells working on translating certain words like conservation and poverty. The quick feedback the teacher gets from Visual formative assessments or VFAs can help me quickly differentiate learning assignments. The rubrics the author created for the VFAs can also help me quickly identify content areas I need to reteach.

Panzy Osborne Panzy Osborne 1980 Points

I believe the attached article is a good starting point to help students take greater ownership of their own learning. I think using graphic organizers as formative assessments is a great time management strategy, additionally graphic organizers can allow for greater differentiation. I struggle with teaching students how to learn and not just memorize facts and information. My goal as a teacher is to create critical thinkers but I struggle. My only motivation as a teacher is the personal development of my students but I am having a hard time finding a lot of resources that address the emotional and intellectual needs of middle grade science students.

assessing students Collection (1 item)
Danisha Toney Danisha Toney 1375 Points

I think you should take a look at the article "Assessing for Achievement" it deals with formative assessment where each phase of the 5E Instructional Model is used. The 5E Model is a lesson cycle based on inquiry and constructivism. The 5E Model phases are engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. It is relevant to all age levels, as is the process of using formative assessments at every phase of the model. It gave some great examples to use for each phase. Once I become a teacher I plan on using some of these in my own classroom. Engage Phase: (Elicit prior knowledge, misconceptions, or possible gaps in content or vocabulary)- partner discussion Explain Phase: (Introduce vocabulary; clarify concepts)- exit ticket Exploration Phase: (Monitor readiness for exploration, and active participation)- group checklist for questioning Elaborate Phase: (Use of newly gained vocabulary and concepts)- concept mapping Evaluate Phase: (Students and teachers evaluate concept understanding- illustrated reflections

Attachments

Assessing for Achievement (Journal Article)

Panzy Osborne Panzy Osborne 1980 Points

The assessment used in this article provides a very clear cut and effective way to assess student's learning. The assessment uses 4 steps that allows teachers to quickly provide feedback for students. Because the assessment starts with anticipation, the teacher can be less reactionary and quickly adapt the lesson plan to meet students needs. As a new teacher, I am happy I stumbled on such a straight forward way of assessing students.

Clear Cut assessing Collection (0 items)
Danisha Toney Danisha Toney 1375 Points

So much of our daily lives deals with technology in one way or another. One way to get students engaged in their own learning is by incorporating different technology base activities. The attached article gives some great examples of things to use. I personally like the website brainpop.

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 Erin Collins 1240 Points

Danisha, Thanks for this find! I'm definitely adding this to my library. The idea of a blog is awesome! I have noticed that many of my kids did not like to write, but if they get to use a computer they are open to whatever the assignment is. This way, you can assess their understanding based on what is written in their blog, and they get to be as creative as they want with it. Thank you! Erin

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