The answer may be in the anecdotal evidence. The conversations between students were mini debates. “Are you sure this is correct?” “How do you know?” “What about this other data?” “Should we label that number?” “What about the energy of the particles during a phase change?” And on, and on, and on….They were having discussions between themselves that I would not have been able to elicit as a teacher.
Card sorts are a great way to achieve a number of classroom objectives. They can be used as a review activity or they can be done during the middle of a lesson as a type of formative assessment. Sorts can encourage students to work with other students or can even be used as a type of exit ticket. I decided to use the strategy about two thirds of the way through a unit on covalent and ionic compounds and lewis structures. I knew there were items we did not cover in the sort but I was curious to see how they would approach these unknown topics.
This is a program that has an electronic copy of the map for all teachers to see. The entire map is tied to standards that are a version of state, federal and or local standards. Any formative assessment can easily be graded and tied to a standard. The data can be used to break down how the kids are doing in any one standard and plan future lessons accordingly. If we need to change to meet the needs of our students, we can and should immediately. It is not perfect but is trying to maximize data collection and analysis to help teachers and students.
Science is cool. It allows us to step back and reason why things are the way they are. Most importantly it fuels us to keep questioning why. Asking why is an important aspect of learning, and is a huge part of the way classrooms run, on average a teacher will ask 300-400 questions just in a day (Vogler 2008)! However, what happens when a student does not have the correct answer to a question? Are they deemed wrong? Is it a misconception that we must fix?
The first few experiments and labs that I use to start the year off are more like “probes”. I am trying to figure out the strong and weak points for my students. I have found a couple of things we can work on. The two major areas are observations and communication. We need to work on writing sentences that use data and background information to support the theories students develop.
The purpose of a lab practicum is to assess a student’s understanding of the content by completing a hands-on challenge. These assessments focus more on problem-solving skills than technique.
This school year my district is launching a 1:1 Chromebook initiative. 6th and 9th graders will receive their Chromebooks next semester as part of the rollout. In the meantime, I continue to have access to my Chromebook cart from the Blending Learning pilot I participated in last school year. My goal is to incorporate even more tech use when appropriate; so far, I have increased Chromebook use in my classroom for things like warm up questions, EdPuzzles, and quizzes. My experience with quizzes has been especially interesting.
My students are bright and motivated. Most work hard and prepare for class and tests. They perform extremely well on district-wide tests and my own classroom tests. However, I see real weaknesses on cumulative assessments requiring high levels of application. My students simply do not retain the content knowledge. I want to restructure my course to exclude "unit tests" and include only cumulative assessments. I'll share my early ideas here, and I would love to hear your experiences.
What do you do when you don’t have any local or affordable opportunities for professional development?