Finally, a down-to-earth, research-based resource teachers can read today and begin using tomorrow! Uncovering Student Ideas in Science is the first in a series of books that contains 25 field-tested, content-aligned, easily administered, and quickly analyzed formative assessments. The developmental considerations and suggested instructional strategies help identify the best use and appropriate grade level for the individual assessments in this book.
Many of us use KWL charts to find out what students know. We all know that accessing students’ prior knowledge is key to designing instruction. But does the KWL strategy really give teachers enough information to truly know what students are thinking? Uncovering Student Ideas in Science goes far beyond the KWL chart by providing simple-to-use scenarios known as “Probes” that get at the heart of what students really know by making evident the rules or reasoning students use to understand the big ideas in science. Individual probes are set up using a consistent one-page, reproducible format. A probe may consist of several short, easy-to-read, descriptive paragraphs with an accompanying diagram describing for the learner a situation, such as the growth of bean seeds in a sealed jar over 12 days. After reading, learners are asked to respond to one question, which is usually in a multiple-choice format.
The probes were designed to be used at multiple levels by K-12 classroom teachers, but I also see them as a resource for staff developers when helping teachers deepen their core content knowledge. Each probe is aligned with specific National Science Education Standards and AAAS Benchmarks and includes background material for teachers connecting the purpose of the probe with core concepts, content explanations, developmental considerations, research on learning, and suggested instructional strategies. Additional resources, such as SciLinks, are also included with the instructional strategies. All probes end by having students describe the thinking behind their choice(s) on the lines provided. A physical science concept matrix and a life, Earth, and space concept matrix make it easy for users to quickly identify which probes align with specific core science concepts.