Monday, March 19, 2012

Formative assessment

Today,  as I was updating my profile on the blog (many things have changed since I started it), I observed with interest that most of the hits from my readers were on a post that addressed formative and summative assessments in the classroom.

Teachers are always looking for ways to assess children and one way to find them is by foraging through the world wide web.

Formative assessments can be as simple as taking notes, talking to children, recording a scenario on video, an exit slip, or a simple checklist. The purpose of the formative assessment is to know what the students know and need to understand; it also informs the children what they know and need to investigate further.

I am working on simple machines with my students.

The children need to understand the following concept:  Machines make our lives easier. We can show children different examples of machines and test them on their knowledge by giving them a 'test'. However, this is but one way of assessing their knowledge. In order for the students to embrace this understanding and apply it in real life situations, they need to experience the simple machines.
They need to build them, analyze them and draw parallels with the world around them.
For the last two weeks, they have been exploring machines, building machines, going on a machine hunt, reading books about machines, and watching movies where machines have been used. The students made up a machine dance too.

At the gym, Novatel Hotel

Getting help, building a ramp.

Creating a trebuchet with pencils

Trying out the catapult
A machine dance

Understanding how machines make lives easier
Figuring out where the load, pivot and fulcrum is.

The students created a catapult using a punching machine, some blue tack and a few rubber bands. The had to throw a ball made of foil as far as possible and measure the distance.
 We invited a parent (who is a very creative and enthusiastic amateur scientist). He made an amazing power generator using wire, rubber balls and screws!

As the children explore the various machines, I am constantly asking them questions and noting their answers. At times I ask some students to explain a concept to their peers. We keep talking about them everyday. Questions are posted on the wonder wall and are left there to be answered by the students themselves. Below the wonder wall, I strategically place all books on simple machines :)

Here are some of the formative assessments I have created along the way.

If you are doing a unit on this topic, please feel free to use the resources. If you have any great resources you want to share with us, we will be delighted to have them.
Formative Assessment

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