formative assessment probes
This issue marks the 77th column I have written for NSTA’s Science and Children journal. Each of these short articles, starting with the first column published in 2010, “Doing Science,” can be used to support professional learning. This month I will share ways this column can be used to support professional learning with a partner, grade level team, or any configuration where two or more teachers come together for professional learning.
Any one of these short articles can be used to delve into a topic related to formative assessment. To use formative assessment effectively in the elementary classroom, the teacher must have access to a repertoire of formative assessment classroom techniques (FACTs) and specially designed probing questions that link research on commonly held ways of thinking about science to core science concepts and phenomena. But having access to these tools and resources is not enough. Teachers need to understand how probes and FACTs are used appropriately and what it looks like when they are used effectively in the classroom. That is the purpose of these columns—to build and support elementary teachers’ use of formative assessment to link assessment, instruction, and students’ thinking in the science classroom. This purpose can be met individually by reading these columns on your own. Or even better, through collaborative structures with two or more colleagues reading and discussing the articles to advance their professional learning. So, what can you do with these 77 articles?
Whichever column(s) you choose to use for your professional learning, consider your own and your group’s learning outcome(s):
Do you want to learn more about the content you teach? The science content in an article might surface a long-held conception you had that might be flawed or not well-developed. Reading these articles can strengthen your knowledge of core disciplinary ideas. It can also help resolve misunderstandings you may have not realized you had until you read the article.
Do you want to learn more about your students’ thinking? Many of these articles describe a scenario of students in someone else’s classroom. It is quite likely your students will think and respond in a similar way. Furthermore, trying out the probe and technique with your own students and sharing your findings will give insight into your own students’ thinking and show how their ideas often mirror the research on commonly held ideas.
Do you want to learn new instructional strategies? The FACTs described in many of the columns inextricably link assessment and instruction. The columns can help you build a rich repertoire of effective teaching strategies that support student thinking about concepts and phenomena as well as help you understand how they use scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts.
There are a variety of structures you can use these columns with for engaging in professional learning with your colleagues. The following are a few suggestions for ways to embed the column into professional learning:
By sharing and discussing these columns with your colleagues, you bring new vitality and ideas to professional learning. The value in sharing the probes, formative assessment classroom techniques (FACTs), new ideas about teaching and learning, student data from the probes, and your own reflections is transformative learning at its best.
Download the table listing all 77 articles and their topics at https://bit.ly/3EvFwcK.
Web SeminarScience Update: Making Climate Science Matter: Expanding the Use and Reach of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, May 2, 2024
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