Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards

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Instructions: Using what you have learned about biodiversity, the information from your class summary sheet, and your bar charts for abundance and richness, construct an explanation to answer the following scientific question:. Scientific Question: Which zone in the schoolyard has the highest biodiversity?

My Explanation [figure or text box? Biodiversity is related to abundance and richness because it shows the two amounts in one word. Box shows a progression for the design of tasks that assess one example of three-dimensional learning: the practice of constructing explanations with one core idea and crosscutting concept. Tasks 3 and 4, which target the same performance expectation but have different assessment purposes, illustrate this point.

Task 3 was implemented midway through the curricular unit to provide formative information for the teacher on the kinds of three-dimensional learning students could demonstrate with the assistance of guides. Task 3 was classified as a Level 5 task in terms of the progression shown in Box and included two types of guides for the students core idea guides in text boxes and practice guides that offer the definition of claim, evidence, and reasoning. Task 4 was classified as a Level 7 task because it did not provide students with any guides to the construction of explanations.

Example 7: Climate Change. The committee chose this flexible online assessment task to demonstrate how assessment can be customized to suit different purposes. Computer software allows teachers to tailor online assessment tasks to their purpose and to the stage of learning that students have reached, by offering more or less supporting information. Write a scientific argument to support your answer for the following question. Explicit written statement that ties evidence to claim with a reasoning statement: that is, Zone B has the highest biodiversity because it has the highest animal richness and high animal abundance.

Biodiversity is a combination of both richness and abundance , not just one or the other. The tasks may be used for both formative and summative purposes: they are designed to function close to instruction. This online assessment task is part of a climate change curriculum for high school students. It targets the performance expectation that students use geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make evidence-based.

In the instruction that takes place prior to this task, students will have selected a focal species in a particular ecosystem and studied its needs and how it is distributed in the ecosystem. They will also have become familiar with a set of model-based climate projections, called Future 1, 2, and 3, that represent more and less severe climate change effects. The materials provided online as part of the activity include.

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This progression covers constructing a claim with evidence and constructing explanations with and without guidance. Table shows sample student responses that illustrate both correct responses and common errors. Students 1, 3, and 4 have made accurate predictions, and supplied reasoning and evidence; students 2, 5, and 6 demonstrate common errors, including insufficient evidence student 2 , inappropriate reasoning and evidence student 5 , and confusion between reasoning and evidence student 6.

Teachers can use this display to quickly see the range of responses in the class and use that information to make decisions about future instruction. Example 8: Ecosystems.

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The committee chose this example, drawn from the SimScientists project, to demonstrate the use of simulation-based modules designed to be embedded in a curriculum unit to provide both formative and summative assessment information. Middle school students use computer simulations to demonstrate their understanding of core ideas about ecosystem dynamics and the progress of their. Copyright by the author; used with permission. Thus, the simulations also address the crosscutting concept of systems.

Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards

The assessment components function close to classroom instruction. In this set of classroom modules, students use simulated, dynamic representations of particular ecosystems, such as a mountain lake or grasslands, to investigate features common to all ecosystems. The students investigate the roles of and relationships among species within habitats and the effects of these interactions on population levels Quellmalz et al.

The simulated environments provide multiple representations of system models at different scales.

They require students to apply core ideas about ecosystems and to carry out such practices as building and using models, planning and conducting investigations by manipulating the system elements , and interpreting patterns. Figure shows a model of the characteristics of and changes in ecosystems as it would appear on the screen. The model would be very difficult for students to observe or investigate using printed curriculum materials. If a student draws an arrow that links a food consumer to the wrong source of matter and energy, a feedback box coaches the student to observe again by reviewing the animation, thus providing formative feedback.

In the subsequent curriculum-embedded assessment, students investigate what happens to population levels when relative starting numbers of particular organisms are varied: see Figure The interactive simulation allows students to conduct multiple trials to build, evaluate, and critique models of balanced ecosystems, interpret data, and draw conclusions.

If the purpose of the assessment is formative, students can be given feedback and a graduated sequence of coaching by the program. Figure shows a feedback box for this set of activities, which not only notifies the student that an error has occurred but also prompts the student to analyze the population graphs and design a third trial that maintains the survival of the organisms.

As part of the assessment, students also complete tasks that ask them to construct descriptions, explanations, and conclusions. They are guided in assessing their own work by judging whether their response meets specified criteria, and then how well their response matches a sample one, as illustrated in Figure The SimScientists assessments are designed to provide feedback that addresses common student misconceptions about the ecosystem components, interactions that take place within them, or the way they behave, as well as errors in the use of science practices.

The simulation generates reports to students about their progress toward goals for conceptual understanding and use of practices, and it also provides a variety of reporting options for teachers.

Assignments Matter: Making The Connections That Help Students Meet Standards

Teachers can view progress reports for individual students as well as class-level reports Quellmalz et al. The SimScientists assessment system was also designed to collect summative assessment information after students complete a regular curriculum unit on ecosystems which might have included the formative assessment modules described above. Figures and show tasks that are part of a benchmark assessment scenario in which students are asked to investigate ways to restore an Australian grasslands ecosystem—one that is novel to them—that has been affected by a significant fire.

No feedback or coaching is provided. Students investigate the roles of. Students draw a food web representing a model of the flow of energy and matter throughout the ecosystem, based on the interactions they have observed. Students then use the simulation models to plan, conduct, interpret, explain, and critique investigations of what happens to population levels when numbers of particular organisms are varied.

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In a culminating task, students present their findings about the grasslands ecosystem. These task examples from the SimScientists project illustrate ways that assessment tasks can take advantage of technology to represent generalizable, progressively more complex models of science systems, present challenging scientific reasoning tasks, provide individualized feedback, customize scaffolding, and promote self-assessment and metacognitive skills.

Reports generated for teachers and students indicate the level of additional help students may need and classify students into groups for which tailored, follow-on, reflection activities are recommended to be conducted during a subsequent class period.

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Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards [Eleanor Dougherty] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Editorial Reviews. From the Inside Flap. What exactly is an "assignment," and why does it Buy Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards: Read 14 How can educators ensure that their teaching meets the rigorous demands of the Common Core State Standards, so that all students.

These formative assessments also have an instructional purpose. They are designed to promote model-based reasoning about the common organization and behaviors of all ecosystems see Figure and to teach students how to transfer knowledge they gain about how one ecosystem functions to examples of new ecosystems Buckley and Quellmalz, The six examples discussed above, as well as the one in Chapter 2 , demonstrate characteristics we believe are needed to assess the learning called for in the NGSS and a range of approaches to using assessments constructively in the classroom to support such learning.

The examples demonstrate that it is possible to design tasks and contexts in which teachers elicit student thinking about a disciplinary core idea or crosscutting concept by engaging them in a scientific practice.

This information can be used to adjust instruction or to evaluate learning that occurred during a specified time. Some of the examples involve formal scoring, while others are used by teachers to adjust their instructional activities without necessarily assigning student scores. Types of Assessment Activities. Research on the assessments supports the idea that this approach could be a part of a coherent, balanced state science assessment system: see discussion in Chapter 6.

In many of these examples, listening to and engaging with other students as they discuss and defend their responses is a part of the learning process, as students work toward a classroom consensus explanation or a model based on the evidence they have collected. The classroom discussion itself in these cases is the basis for the formative assessment process. We note that when assessments are designed to be used formatively, the goal is sometimes not to assign scores to individual students but rather to decide what further instruction is needed for groups of students or the class as a whole.

Thus, instead of scoring rubrics, criteria or rubrics that can help guide instructional decisions may be used. When the goal includes assessment of both individuals and groups, both types of scoring rubrics would be needed. Teachers need support to learn to be intentional and deliberative about such decisions. In the examples shown, designers of curriculum and instruction have developed probes that address likely learning challenges, and teachers are supported in recognizing these challenges and in the use of the probes to seek evidence of what their students have learned and not learned, along some continuum.

It includes tasks that are explicitly designed for assessment. Other tasks may not be sharply distinguished from ongoing classroom activities. These forms of reasoning also become a topic of instructional conversations, so that students are encouraged to consider additional aspects of data representation, including tradeoffs about what different kinds of displays do and do not show about the same data.

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As students improve their capacity to visualize data, the data discussion then leads them to notice characteristics of organisms or populations. This interplay between learning a practice data representation as an aspect of data analysis and learning about a core idea variation in a population , as well as a crosscutting concept recognizing and interpreting patterns , provides an example of the power of three-dimensional learning, as well as an example of an assessment strategy.

Interpreting Results. A structured framework for interpreting evidence of student thinking is needed to make use of the task artifacts products , which might include data displays, written explanations, or oral arguments. As we discuss in Chapter 3 , interpretation of results is a core element of assessment, and it should be a part of the assessment design. An interpretive framework can help teachers and students themselves recognize how far they have progressed and identify intermediate stages of understanding and problematic ideas.

Although these preconceptions are often labeled as misconceptions or problematic ideas, they are the base on which student learning must be built. What these examples have in common is that they allow teachers to group students into categories, which helps with the difficult task of making sense of many kinds of student thinking; they also provide tools for helping teachers decide what to do next.

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Here are examples from our own Text to Text series in which something in The Times reminded us of an often-taught text or historical event:. I am a teacher because I know that a true understanding of life isn't measured on a test, but in the way we treat others. Figure shows a feedback box for this set of activities, which not only notifies the student that an error has occurred but also prompts the student to analyze the population graphs and design a third trial that maintains the survival of the organisms. You can control the resources available to students using the Add Class and Edit Class functions. Effective use of the practices often requires that they be used in concert with one another, such as in supporting explanation with an argument or using mathematics to analyze data. Teachers use these tests to assess student knowledge of a particular concept or a particular aspect of practice e.

Facets that are related to one another can be organized into clusters, and the basis for grouping can either be an explanation or an interpretation of a physical situation or a disciplinary core idea Minstrell and Kraus, Clusters comprise goal facets which are often standards or disciplinary core ideas and problematic facets which are related to the disciplinary idea but which represent ways of reasoning about the idea that diverge from the goal facet. The facets perspective assumes that, in addition to problematic thinking, students also possess insights and understandings about the disciplinary core idea that can be deepened and revised through additional learning opportunities Minstrell and van Zee, The interpretive framework for evaluating evidence has to be expressed with enough specificity to make it useful for helping teachers decide on next steps.