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Active Assessment for Active Science

A Guide for Elementary School Teachers


(Reprinted by permission of George E. Hein and Sabra Price. Published by Heinemann, A division of Reed Elsevier Inc., Portsmouth, NH, 1994. Following are excerpts from Chapter 3, "Managing Assessments."

Chapter Contents:

 

Notebooks

Students have to learn how to keep notebooks as well as how to write about scientific investigations. At first they may do an inadequate job on both tasks. They may skip entries, they may not write completely about their observations, they may forget to date their pages or title their graphs. However, they will be practicing the skills they need to improve in order to keep good notebooks in the future. These notebooks may not be accurate reflections of what they know, but they are not a waste of time. All of this practice is a part of developing scientific literacy.

If you ask your students to keep science notebooks, the following guidelines may be useful:

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Checklists

Many teachers find that checklists make them feel secure ­ they are reassured that they are 'covering all the bases" and observing everything they intend. If you feel overwhelmed sorting through the wealth of observational data you collect, checklists can help you organize this information.

Design your checklists to reflect what you consider to be the important skills, processes, attitudes, and content in any science unit. (Some teachers ask their students to help identify the important learning areas.) You may want to itemize the different products, worksheets, and other materials you expect your students to complete; you will then be able to make sure you observe each of your students in each area you have defined.

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ASSESSMENT STRATEGIES

Assessing individuals in paired or group activities

In most, if not all, of the new science curriculums, students are expected to work in pairs or small groups. It can be a challenge to assess individual students. The following approaches may help:

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0bservation notes

Teacher observation is central to assessing hands-on science but is often hard to manage systematically. It is important to establish procedures for carrying out and recording observations that ensure that important content, attitudes, skills, and procedures are observed for each student. Remember three basic rules:

1. Keep it short and simple.

2. Record only what you see; don't interpret.

3. Don't trust your memory; write it down.

Here are some approaches that have worked for others:

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998.

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.