Thursday, April 1, 2010

Assessment Ideas

A couple of days before Spring Break I gave students a quiz focusing on the characteristics of cold blooded and warm blooded vertebrates. I wanted them to match up characteristics so I made a cut and paste assessment. Students had to cut out different types of characteristics on one sheet and glue them under the right heading on another. At the bottom of each heading I had them draw (and label) a picture of an animal in that category. This turned out to be a good thing because several students drew pictures of reptiles under amphibian and vice versa (I took points off if they didn't put a label only because it is very hard to tell what some students drawings are).

While students were doing that behind their privacy shields, I called students to my desk and had them sit and explain the difference between a cold blooded and warm blooded animal. I don't do these verbal assessments very often but I wanted to see if the majority of the class understood the difference and could put it into words.

My cut and paste assessment was more time consuming then a multiple choice one so I had the time to call them back to my desk. I treated that question like an essay question when grading. I made some word searches (front and back) for the students who were done early.

I liked both assessments and will attempt to add more in this year and next (the assessment would also work as a notebook assignment).

The biggest thing I had to contend with was not enough glue sticks/bottles, too much glue, etc. I got the idea to use soda bottle tops and fill them with glue and give students a Q-tip to use an applicator. This made things go so much smoother. Each child had their own bottle top with glue and applicator. If they ran out, they just let me know and I came around and squirted more glue into their top. I had no fussing or complaining from the students and they got right down to work. Some student's lost the words they were cutting out and rather then have to do a massive search I told them they could write in a fact and I would accept it. WARNING - The floor was a giant MESS after this activity with scrap paper. I sent one of my chatty, but helpful, homeroom students on a scavenger hunt for our custodian to get a broom and dust plan and had them sweep the floor.

I did have one SUPER chatty class that I had to stay on top of and sadly I wasn't able to to give them the verbal essay question. I sort of expected it from this group so close to Spring Break so I didn't loose sleep over it. I figure I will try it again with the question after the break.


karebearbg said...

I just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. I just discovered your site and it has given me some really great ideas on how to use notebooks next year. I am a 6th grade teacher and will be switching to science next year and have been at a loss as to how to incorporate notebooks into my class, but your site has given me so many great ideas. THANK YOU!

My one question is how many units do you usually cover throughout the year? I'm trying to put a curriculum map together for next year and want to use the notebooks and units as the map. Thanks again!

Eve Heaton said...

I'm glad you are enjoying the blog. I feel a bit slack recently but promise I have more to post!

As to how many units I cover throughout the year....I cover five (Inquiry, Weather, Astronomy, Light/Electricity/Magnets, and Organisms and their Environment).

There are two ways that teachers generally map this out (1) by the number of standards in the unit or (2) by the amount of time in the year.

I map by the amount of time in the year. Generally my inquiry unit starts off the year with about a 3-4 week time period (since inquiry skills get worked into the other units it only gets a small period of time and it serves to get students interested in science at the beginning of the year and familiar with scientific vocabulary and notebook set up). Then I divide the rest of the year among the remaining four units (minus time for MAP and end of year testing and review). This equals out to approximately 7 weeks per unit (give or take).

I am on the district’s curriculum mapping team this summer so this is something we will be looking at. The district is working toward getting all schools on the same map so that when students transfer within our district we will all pretty much be in the same unit.

Probably the best suggestion I have heard on the mapping team is moving our light/ electricity/ magnet unit to the Thanksgiving and Christmas time period because it can be broken up into three smaller units so it can be picked up easily after the holiday breaks. This might be something to consider when looking at your units (does one unit allow itself to be broken up into mini units?).

After inquiry we start into the Weather unit (so we can touch on weather throughout the year as it is happening). The end of the year is Organisms and the Environment (which allows us to take advantage of growing things in Spring).

Hoped that helped!