Students have early childhood experiences with basic force concepts well before they encounter the word force in the science classroom. For example, it doesn’t take long for a child to figure out that pushing or pulling on a toy will cause it to move in the direction of the push or pull. From a very early age, children push and pull on the objects they play with. The way the word force is used in everyday language affects students’ understanding of force in a science context. When the concept of force is first taught in the elementary curriculum, it is usually introduced as a push or a pull.

This article was specifically written to illustrate how a formative assessment probe, often combined with a FACT, is used in a K–6 classroom. It provides extensive descriptions of how the probe is used, actual examples of student work or transcripts of students talking about their ideas, or illustrative examples of instructional decisions made by elementary teachers. It provides this information specifically for elementary teachers, giving deeper insight into the formative assessment process and complementing the teacher notes.

In addition, a link is provided at the end of the chapter to a website where teachers can download a copy of the probe to use with their students. The chapter also includes a Reflection and Study Guide. These guides include a set of questions designed to help the reader reflect on what they learned after reading the chapter. Even if your state has not adopted the NGSS, the links provided will help you clarify the content in your own standards and provide a lens to focus on what effective teaching and learning in science involves when using the formative assessment probes.

This free sample chapter also includes Table of Contents, Foreword, Introduction, and Index.


Elementary School

Grade Levels



Assessment Learning Progression NGSS Physical Science Pre-K


Type Book ChapterPub Date 3/1/2014ISBN 978-1-938946-25-7Stock # PB348X_11

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