Reviewed by Jean Worsley
Retired Biology Teacher
Science Formative Assessment provides a broad repertoire of strategies for teaching and learning science and other disciplines in grades K-12. The author presents 75 strategies (referred to as Formative Assessment Classroom Techniques or FACTS) based on current research from many sources.
Traditionally, science teachers were considered to be providers of knowledge, and students were considered to be passive recipients. Using formative assessment strategies requires a paradigm shift in the definition of the role of teachers. Their level of effectiveness as facilitators will increase as students become actively engaged in the learning process as they share ideas, explore alternatives, and analyze and evaluate concepts individually and in groups. Formative assessment affords facilitators and students the opportunity to discover prior knowledge; lessons can be tailored to the styles, needs, and goals of a diverse student population.
Chapter one presents three principles, based on current research, that support the use of FACTs. They take into consideration a student’s initial understanding, the student’s foundation of factual knowledge, and a “metacognitive” approach to infuse methods to raise students to a higher level of thinking and learning. Research shows that when these principles are integrated into the learning experience, achievement increases. Also, four classroom environments that support the use of formative assessment strategies are thoroughly described.
Chapter two focuses on integrating FACTs with instruction and learning. The author presents a compelling rationale for using the SAIL cycle to link science assessment, instruction, and learning. Each stage of the cycle is explored with corresponding examples of a specific fact with detailed charts and graphs. Additional suggestions are listed to strengthen the effectiveness of this integration.
Chapter three validates the use of FACTs with emphasis on selecting a specific tool to meet a specific goal and the necessity of thorough planning prior to implementation. Parental involvement is encouraged to promote student thinking and idea sharing. Finally, in chapter four, 75 FACTs are provided that empower learners to become vital participants in the teaching/learning process. Each FACT has an intriguing and thought-provoking title with a format that can readily be adapted to various disciplines and grade levels. Pertinent information on each FACT includes a description, an explanation of how it promotes student learning and informs instruction, considerations for design and implementation, modifications, and caveats. The appendix contains annotated resources with referenced FACTs. Additional references are listed, including three books by the author, and an index. Without a doubt, this resource is a must, not only for facilitators of science classes and other disciplines but for members of professional learning communities at all levels.
Review posted on 9/8/2008