Electrostatic concept maps
To encourage and assess students’ abilities to make connections among many electrostatic concepts, I assigned a concept map with 25 terms representing a combination of vocabulary, demonstrations, and equations for them to connect. As they worked on this in class, I noticed many of them having new realizations about how everything they had seen in class fit together.
Teacher Inquiry Literature Review on Formative Assessment
The attached literature review summarizes some of the key and recent literature on using clickers and other forms of every-pupil-response formative assessment. I used this review to inform and guide my own teacher inquiry project during student teaching.
What is assessment useful for?
In the age of standardized testing, where assessment is often associated with a final evaluation that determines the future of teachers and students, I strive to focus on using assessments to determine what students understand in order to plan how they can best learn. Assessments help verify if students are achieving the learning objectives I have set out while identifying misconceptions. Assessments also reveal the different skills of each student so that instruction can be tailored to where it’s needed most. Moreover, assessment is a two way street, which not only informs teachers about students, but also informs students about how they themselves are doing. In a survey I did of students, 41% found that regular use of individual white boards helped them either realize when they were confused or express confusion in class. Regular assessments, feedback, and opportunities help give every student the opportunity to succeed.
Which types of assessments do I use?
I have implemented a variety of assessments in my teaching so far, and am always excited to learn more. In the past semester, I put a particular focus on formative assessment, and especially every-pupil-response techniques that keep me constantly informed on what each student is understanding. I use a combination of individual whiteboards, flashcards, and clickers, and regularly analyze the benefits and drawbacks of each method (see CFG example below). These methods are critical in helping both me and the students track each individual’s learning. I also used short quizzes to assess what students are learning, to help them assess what they may not understand, and to decide which topics to revisit.
For summative assessments, I am still in the process of developing regular non-test assessments, which I found particularly challenging in a physics course that needs to cover a lot of content. In my first student teaching placement, I used standard tests with a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions, as well as some challenging bonus questions for the exceptional students. I did add a question on the test that had students use electrostatic vocabulary to explain a real-world application of their choice, and I want to do much more of this, so students can see the connections of physics with the real world. I was able to build a wider array of summative assessments into my second placement, including having students prepare slides and “teach” the class about a certain subject (described below), administering an online test that included questions on an online virtual simulation of energy conversions, and watching a youtube video to inspire the students to design an experiment to determine if the video was accurate.
In future teaching, I would like to include more authentic assessments, such as having students submit creative applications for new inventions (http://beta.marblar.com/). I’ve also set up a wiki, where I would have all my classes work together to create a comprehensive wiki over the course of the year (http://msshaked.wikispaces.com/). Students would be expected to add physics content, and information on the history of that content, with points given for links among different topics. If possible, students can even draft and revise actual Wikipedia entries, especially on the “Simple” version of the site, which currently has a need for more authors and tries to be more easily comprehendable (i.e., perfectly suited for high school authors).
How do I evaluate and respond to assessment?
An assessment is only valuable if it is evaluated well and resulting feedback is used. Based on literature about integrating clicker questions as formative assessment (see Teacher Inquiry Literature Review below), I have practiced different types of formative assessments and have adapted mid-lesson and for the next lesson based on this assessment, thus leading to data-driven instruction. I also assess students in a variety of ways to ensure the comprehensiveness of assessment rather than examining only a single aspect. Finally, I view assessments as another learning experience, and therefore give students the chance to correct test questions for half credit.
Assessment in its many forms
Examples of How I Think About and Use Assessment
Handout on Formative Assessment Classroom and Techniques
I created a handout summarizing Page Keeleys’ Science Formative Assessment: 75 practical strategies for linking assessment, instruction and learning. This book provides a great summary of what a formative assessment classroom looks like, and how such assessments inform the teacher and student about student learning.
Quiz based on electrophorous demo
Rather than a typical check-in quiz, I guided the students through an engaging demonstration involving aluminum pie plates, Styrofoam, rabbit fur, and lots of sparks. They loved the demonstration and explored different electrostatic characteristics. I then gave a quiz based on this demonstration, in which they had to identify the type of electrostatic charging and distribution of charges for each step. This was a fun way to assess how well students apply new concepts to real-life materials. Based on how each class did on this quiz, I either reviewed some of the key concepts or moved on to other material.
YOU be the Teacher:
This lesson is described in more detail in “Planning and Implementation”, but included here as an example of assessment. It reveals not only what the student knows about the topic of their choice, but also includes a multiple choice question with flashcards to assess what the rest of the class knows. This lesson included a rubric projected on the board and posted on their edmodo assignment, so that the students knew how they were being graded. In the next implementation, I would give more planning and presentation time to the students, and then have the questions be a more formal assessment (i.e., a sheet full of questions that they fill out and hand in).
Earth Science Assessment Diagram
Rather than have students do a test or recite Earth Science facts, I gave them the outline of a diagram, and had them draw and label ten elements on the diagram (two of their choice). Here is one example, and a second example of how students filled in these diagrams. This let students see the Earth Science concepts in a more holistic way while giving them some creative freedom. Students who preferred writing were still given the option of writing descriptions, and next time I would make this writing option more holistically-oriented as well.
I demonstrate the ability to develop and utilize a variety of assessment tools and techniques designed to evaluate student learning and performance, provide feedback, and shape future lesson planning, programs, and curricula.