By: Page Keeley, Francis Eberle, and Chad Dorsey
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Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volume 3: Another 25 Formative Assessment Probes
|Type of Product:||NSTA Press Book (also see downloadable PDF version of this book)
based on 9 reviews
|Publication Title:||Uncovering Student Ideas in Science Series
|Grade Level:||Elementary School, Middle School, High School
|Read Inside:||Read a sample chapter: Pennies
Our reviewers—top-flight teachers and other outstanding science educators—have determined that this resource is among the best available supplements for science teaching.
[Read the full review]
Because you demanded it! Since publication of Volume 1 of this series, thousands of teachers are using these innovative classroom tools to improve student learning in science. Following in the footsteps of earlier volumes in the Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series, this all-new book provides short, easy-to-administer probes that determine what misconceptions students bring to the classroom about the nature of science and about physical, life, Earth, and space sciences. This new volume in our bestselling series provides more topic areas for classroom use as well as guidance on how teachers can use the probes for their own learning.
As outlined in previous volumes, teachers—like their students—can have misconceptions that come to the fore when administering the probes. Volume 3 provides 10 detailed suggestions for teachers on how to use the probes to uncover, accurately assess, and correct their own preconceptions as well as their students’ (e.g., do the probes yourself, examine student responses with other teachers, embed the probes into existing professional development programs, select specific areas to focus on, examine student thinking across grade spans, categorize ideas, and crunch data to create classroom profiles).
Volume 3 offers five life science probes, seven Earth and space science probes, ten physical science probes, and three nature of science probes. This volume is an invaluable resource for classroom teachers, preservice teachers, professional developers, and college science and preservice faculty.
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Newton’s laws of motion
Using scientific equipment
Growth and development
|Intended User Role:||Curriculum Supervisor, Elementary-Level Educator, Middle-Level Educator, New Teacher, Teacher
|Educational Issues:||Assessment of students, Classroom management, Curriculum, Educational research, Inquiry learning, Instructional materials, Professional development
About the Authors
Formative Assessment Probes
Using Probes to Examine Teaching and Learning
Probes and Transformative Learning for Teachers
Nine Suggestions for Using Probes as Assessment for Teacher Learning
Physical Science and Nature of Science Assessment Probes
2 Is It a Solid?
4 Helium Balloon
5 Hot and Cold Balloons
6 Mirror on the Wall
7 Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires
8 Apple on a Desk
9 Rolling Marbles
10 Dropping Balls
11 Is It a Theory?
12 Doing Science
13 What Is a Hypothesis?
Life, Earth, and Space Science Assessment Probes
14 Does It Have a Life Cycle?
15 Cells and Size
16 Sam’s Puppy
17 Does It Respire?
18 Rotting Apple
19 Earth’s Mass
20 What Are Clouds Made of?
21 Where Did the Water Come From?
22 Rain Fall
23 Summer Talk
24 Me and My Shadow
25 Where Do Stars Go?
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National Standards Correlation
This resource has 106 correlations with the National Standards.
- Physical Science
- Properties of objects and materials
- Objects have many observable properties, including the ability to react with other substances. (K-4)
- The observable properties of objects can be measured using tools, such as rulers, balances, and thermometers. (K-4)
- Materials can exist in different states--solid, liquid, and gas. (K-4)
- Some common materials, such as water, can be changed from one state to another by heating or cooling. (K-4)
- Structure and properties of matter
- Atoms interact with one another by transferring or sharing electrons that are furthest from the nucleus. (9-12)
- Outer shell electrons govern the chemical properties of the element. (9-12)
- Solids, liquids, and gases differ in the distances and angles between molecules or atoms and therefore the energy that binds them together. (9-12)
- In solids the structure is nearly rigid; in liquids molecules or atoms move around each other but do not move apart; and in gases molecules or atoms move almost independently of each other and are mostly far apart. (9-12)
- Structure of atoms
- Matter is made of minute particles called atoms, and atoms are composed of even smaller components. (9-12)
- The components of atoms have measurable properties, such as mass and electrical charge. (9-12)
- Each atom has a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. (9-12)
- The atom's nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons, which are much more massive than electrons. (9-12)
- Position and motion of objects
- The position and motion of objects can be changed by pushing or pulling. (K-4)
- Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism
- Light travels in a straight line until it strikes an object. (K-4)
- Light can be reflected by a mirror, refracted by a lens, or absorbed by the object. (K-4)
- Electricity in circuits can produce light, heat, sound, and magnetic effects. (K-4)
- Electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass. (K-4)
- Transfer of Energy
- Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. (5-8)
- Energy is transferred in many ways. (5-8)
- Heat moves in predictable ways, flowing from warmer objects to cooler ones, until both reach the same temperature. (5-8)
- Light interacts with matter by transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including reflection). To see an object, light from that object—emitted by or scattered from it—must enter the eye. (5-8) (5-8)
- To see an object, light from that object--emitted by or scattered from it--must enter the eye.
- Electrical circuits provide a means of transferring electrical energy when heat, light, sound, and chemical changes are produced. (5-8)
- Motion and Forces
- Objects change their motion only when a net force is applied. Laws of motion are used to calculate precisely the effects of forces on the motion of objects. (9-12)
- The magnitude of the change in motion can be calculated using the relationship F = ma, which is independent of the nature of the force. (9-12)
- Whenever one object exerts force on another, a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction is exerted on the first object. (9-12)
- Gravitation is a universal force that each mass exerts on any other mass. (9-12)
- Unbalanced forces will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object's motion. (Acceleration) (5-8)
- The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. (5-8)
- An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed and in a straight line. (inertia) (5-8)
- If more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude. (5-8)
- Conservation of energy and increase in disorder
- Heat consists of random motion and the vibrations of atoms, molecules, and ions. (9-12)
- The higher the temperature, the greater the atomic or molecular motion. (9-12)
- Life Science
- The characteristics of organisms
- Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water, and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light. (K-4)
- Life cycles of organisms
- Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life cycle are different for different organisms. (K-4)
- Organisms and environments
- All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms, whereas others are beneficial.
- Structure and function in living systems
- All organisms are composed of cells--the fundamental unit of life (5-8)
- Most organisms are single cells; other organisms, including humans, are multicellular. (5-8)
- Cells carry on the many functions needed to sustain life. They grow and divide, thereby producing more cells. (5-8)
- This requires that cells take in nutrients, which they use to provide energy for the work that cells do and to make the materials that a cell or an organism needs. (5-8)
- Groups of specialized cells cooperate to form a tissue, such as a muscle. (5-8)
- Different tissues are in turn grouped together to form larger functional units, called organs. (5-8)
- Reproduction and heredity
- Reproduction is a characteristic of all living systems; because no individual organism lives forever, reproduction is essential to the continuation of every species. (5-8)
- Some organisms reproduce sexually. (5-8)
- In many species, including humans, females produce eggs and males produce sperm. (5-8)
- Plants also reproduce sexually--the egg and sperm are produced in the flowers of flowering plants. (5-8)
- An egg and sperm unite to begin development of a new individual. That new individual receives genetic information from its mother (via the egg) and its father (via the sperm). (5-8)
- Populations and ecosystems
- Decomposers, primarily bacteria and fungi, are consumers that use waste materials and dead organisms for food. (5-8)
- The cell
- The process of photosynthesis provides a vital connection between the sun and the energy needs of living systems. (9-12)
- Cells have particular structures that underlie their functions. (9-12)
- Inside the cell is a concentrated mixture of thousands of different molecules which form a variety of specialized structures that carry out such cell functions as energy production, transport of molecules, waste disposal, synthesis of new molecules, and the storage of genetic material. (9-12)
- Most cell functions involve chemical reactions. (9-12)
- Food molecules taken into cells react to provide the chemical constituents needed to synthesize other molecules. (9-12)
- Cell functions are regulated. Regulation occurs both through changes in the activity of the functions performed by proteins and through the selective expression of individual genes. (9-12)
- Cell function regulation allows cells to respond to their environment and to control and coordinate cell growth and division. (9-12)
- Interdependence of organisms
- Energy flows through ecosystems in one direction, from photosynthetic organisms to herbivores to carnivores and decomposers. (9-12)
- Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
- Living systems require a continuous input of energy to maintain their chemical and physical organizations. With death, and the cessation of energy input, living systems rapidly disintegrate. (9-12)
- The chemical bonds of food molecules contain energy. (9-12)
- Energy is released when the bonds of food molecules are broken and new compounds with lower energy bonds are formed. (9-12)
- As matter and energy flows through different levels of organization of living systems--cells, organs, organisms, communities--and between living systems and the physical environment, chemical elements are recombined in different ways. (9-12)
- Earth Science
- Properties of earth materials
- Earth materials are solid rocks and soils, water, and the gases of the atmosphere.
- Objects in the sky
- The sun, moon, stars, clouds, birds, and airplanes all have properties, locations, and movements that can be observed and described.
- The sun provides the light and heat necessary to maintain the temperature of the earth.
- Changes in earth and sky
- Weather changes from day to day and over the seasons.
- Weather can be described by measurable quantities, such as temperature, wind direction and speed, and precipitation.
- Structure of the earth system
- Water, which covers the majority of the earth's surface, circulates through the crust, oceans, and atmosphere in what is known as the "water cycle." (5-8)
- Water evaporates from the earth's surface, rises and cools as it moves to higher elevations, condenses as rain or snow, and falls to the surface where it collects in lakes, oceans, soil, and in rocks underground. (5-8)
- Clouds, formed by the condensation of water vapor, affect weather and climate. (5-8)
- Earth in the solar system
- Most objects in the solar system are in regular and predictable motion. (5-8)
- The sun is the major source of energy for phenomena on the earth's surface, such as growth of plants, winds, ocean currents, and the water cycle. (5-8)
- Seasons result from variations in the amount of the sun's energy hitting the surface, due to the tilt of the earth's rotation on its axis and the length of the day. (5-8)
- Geochemical cycles
- The earth is a system containing essentially a fixed amount of each stable chemical atom or element. Each element can exist in several different chemical reservoirs. (9-12)
- Each element on earth moves among reservoirs in the solid earth, oceans, atmosphere, and organisms as part of geochemical cycles. (9-12)
- Science as Inquiry
- Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
- Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses. (K-4)
- Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations.
- Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
- Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.
- Understandings about scientific inquiry
- Scientists use different kinds of investigations depending on the questions they are trying to answer.
- Types of investigations include describing objects, events, and organisms; classifying them; and doing a fair test (experimenting).
- Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). Good explanations are based on evidence from investigations. (K-4)
- Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations. Some investigations involve observing and describing objects, organisms, or events; some involve collecting specimens; some involve experiments; some involve seeking more information; some involve discovery of new objects and phenomena; and some involve making models. (5-8)
- Current scientific knowledge and understanding guide scientific investigations. (5-8)
- Different scientific domains employ different methods, core theories, and standards to advance scientific knowledge (5-8)
- Scientific explanations emphasize evidence, have logically consistent arguments, and use scientific principles, models, and theories. (5-8)
- The scientific community accepts and uses such explanations until displaced by better scientific ones. When such displacement occurs, science advances.
- Scientists usually inquire about how physical, living, or designed systems function. (9-12)
- Conceptual principles and knowledge guide scientific inquiries. (9-12)
- Historical and current scientific knowledge influence the design and interpretation of investigations and the evaluation of proposed explanations made by other scientists. (9-12)
- Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
- Natural resources
- Natural systems have the capacity to reuse waste, but that capacity is limited. (9-12)
- History and Nature of Science
- Science as a human endeavor
- Science is very much a human endeavor, and the work of science relies on basic human qualities, such as reasoning, insight, energy, skill, and creativity--as well as on scientific habits of mind, such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism, and openness to new ideas. (5-8)
- Nature of science
- Scientists formulate and test their explanations of nature using observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical models. Those ideas are not likely to change greatly in the future. (5-8)
- Scientists do and have changed their ideas about nature when they encounter new experimental evidence that does not match their existing explanations.
- In areas where active research is being pursued and in which there is not a great deal of experimental or observational evidence and understanding, it is normal for scientists to differ with one another about the interpretation of the evidence or theory being considered. (5-8)
- Nature of scientific knowledge
- Science distinguishes itself from other ways of knowing and from other bodies of knowledge through the use of empirical standards, logical arguments, and skepticism, as scientists strive for the best possible explanations about the natural world. (9-12)
- Scientific explanations must meet certain criteria. (9-12)
- First and foremost, scientific explanations must be consistent with experimental and observational evidence about nature, and must make accurate predictions, when appropriate, about systems being studied. (9-12)
- Scientific explanations should be logical, respect the rules of evidence, be open to criticism, report methods and procedures, and make knowledge public. (9-12)
- Explanations on how the natural world changes based on myths, personal beliefs, religious values, mystical inspiration, superstition, or authority may be personally useful and socially relevant, but they are not scientific. (9-12)
- Because all scientific ideas depend on experimental and observational confirmation, all scientific knowledge is, in principle, subject to change as new evidence becomes available. (9-12)
- Process Standards for Professional Development
- Prepares educators to apply research to decision making. (NSDC)
- Connect and integrate all pertinent aspects of science and science education. (NSES)
- Address teachers' needs as learners and build on their current knowledge of science content, teaching, and learning. (NSES)
- Teaching Standards
- Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students.
- Select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students.
- Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners.
- Teachers of science engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning.
- Analyze assessment data to guide teaching.
- Use multiple methods and systematically gather data about student understanding and ability.
||Reviewed by: Christina Ramsey (, ) on June 23, 2009
||This book is an great book to have in your science library. It is a necessity for any Science Teacher K-12. The probes are assessment tools that every teacher can use to ask questions varying in degree. These probes can provoke lively discussion, encourage argumentation in small groups, and also support students in thinking on their own. All 25 sections in this book are presented in a clear and concise way. It is easy to read and provides teachers with ideas of how to vary their instructional strategies.
||Use in a hands-on workshop
||Reviewed by: Bonnie Wood (Presque Isle, ME) on July 24, 2008
||I used the series Uncovering Student Ideas in Science in two of my workshops on lecture-free teaching. These sessions were for high school and middle school science teachers. In one instance, the teachers (with whom I had worked previously) picked one of the formative assessments, tried it in their classrooms before the scheduled workshop date, and reported to the rest of the group about how it worked. In the second instance, I brought the books to the workshop and gave the teachers about 30 minutes to find an assessment appropriate for one of their classes, make copies for the other participants, and try the assessment on the workshop participants. In both cases each presentation was followed by critique and suggestions from other workshop participants.
||Third Book in the Series Doesn't Disappoint
||Reviewed by: Paul Allan (Moscow, ID) on July 22, 2008
||Our NSTA president, Page Keeley, and colleagues have again provided an excellent source for helping determine student conceptualizations and understanding of various science topics. This is the third book in the series, and having used the prior two I find this one of similar quality.
“Uncovering Student Ideas” books are filled with short science scenarios that have students make an educated guess in answering a question regarding a phenomenon. Then, and this is the extremely important part, students must provide in writing their reason for choosing their answer. An example of a classic activity will help illustrate the book’s structure. On page 57 is the student handout (which may also be projected to save paper) asking students to guess the fewest number of wires a person would need to make a light bulb light, given the bulb and a battery. Students can pick 1, 2, 3, or 4 pieces of wire. Then they are asked to “Explain your thinking about how to light the bulb. Draw a picture to support your explanation.”
I use these books with my STEM graduate students who teach in elementary classrooms as “visiting scientists” as well as their partner teachers. It is often hard to remember what you didn’t know and misconceptions you might have held as a young student. The multitude of examples in the books provide my university students with a unique look into how their elementary students might look at a concept completely differently than they would ever expect.
The graduate students use the scenarios as pre- and post-assessment activities in their classrooms. While most of them don’t need the follow-up science concept background information provided, their classroom teaching partners find that information valuable. Even some of the graduate student scientists have found some of the scenarios to be challenging and many workshop discussions have been generated through the use of the activities.
Whether used for pre-assessment, formative assessment, or summative assessment, the information you will get from using the activities in these books will inform your teaching and enlighten you to what has been learned and what still needs further clarification.
||Uncovering Student Ideas in Science,Volume 3
||Reviewed by: Rita L (Memphis, TN) on July 16, 2008
||I have all three volumes of this very informative series. It was perfect when I was completing National Board Certification. It allows the teacher to learn what the student already knows and helps to drive further instruction and design of activities for any unit.
||Uncovering Student Ideas -Assessments
||Reviewed by: Joanne M (, ) on July 15, 2008
||A terrific book and resource for science teachers. Useful for pre-testing and evaluation of students in September. But this book has assessments that can be used thoughout the year too. I do not yet have Vol. 1 or 2 but I am planning on getting them.
Great summer read to think about for fall.
||Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Vol 3
||Reviewed by: Julie Conlon (West Lafayette, IN) on July 15, 2008
||Uncovering Student Ideas in Science is a wonderful resource that provides valuable quick assessment to what students understand about given concepts before instruction begins. In addition to providing ready-made assessments, the model used also allows teachers to create their own assessments for concepts not addressed.
||good discussion starter
||Reviewed by: Joe (Saint Louis, MO) on July 15, 2008
||these little assessments (although I wouldn't really call them assessments) are great to use. students really do have many misconceptions about simple concepts in science. this allows you to find where their problems lie and can really start some good discussions.
||Volume 3 - - And keep them coming!
||Reviewed by: Robert Gilmore (Milford, MA) on July 15, 2008
||The 25 formative assessment probes in this book, like the first two volumes, are a wonderful resource for teachers interested in - - among other things - - understanding how and why students don't understand/accept key concepts even after repeated instruction. This book is very readable and actionable.
||3 is great, can't wait for 4!
||Reviewed by: Annette Brickley (Bangor, ME) on July 14, 2008
||These probes are excellent for tickling out the prior ideas of students (and teachers during PD sessions). I use them frequently and love that the resource keeps expanding.
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