VARIABLES assessment

overview

The assessment materials in this folio are designed to be used throughout the Variables Module. They can be used to monitor progress during the investigations and as an evaluation tool at the end of the module. The goals for assessment fall into three categories called assessment variables: (1) content knowledge, (2) conducting investigations, and (3) building explanations. Content knowledge reflects the “facts and concepts” of science that students learn throughout the module. Conducting investigations focuses on skills needed for successfully engaging in scientific investigations. Building explanations refers to students’ discourse—articulating experiences and using evidence to support their ideas and conclusions. For example, students learn the content knowledge that a variable is anything that you can change in an experiment that might affect the outcome. Students conduct investigations testing one variable at a time while keeping others constant and build explanations from data and graphs to draw conclusions about the relationships between variables.

Two classes of assessments are used in this module: formative and summative. Formative assessments are integrated into the investigations (embedded) throughout the module to provide diagnostic information from which you can make decisions about instruction for individual students and for the class.

Summative assessment materials are provided at the end of the module; these include an end-of-module assessment and a portfolio checklist. The end-of-module assessment and the portfolio provide additional evidence about student learning. How well have students learned the content knowledge in the module? What aspects of conducting investigations have students internalized? Can students support explanations with knowledge and evidence they acquired during the module?

Assessment should not be a burden for teachers or students. It must be informative, but easy to administer and easy to record. The FOSS developers, working with partner teachers in the classroom, have kept these factors in mind when designing the assessment component of the program. There are many opportunities for you to assess students throughout the module. Read through this folio before beginning the module so you know what strategies are available.

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note:

Refer to the chart on page 28 of this folio for a list of all the formative assessments in the Variables Module.

 

 

 

Formative ASSESSMENT

The FOSS formative assessment allows you and your students to monitor learning continuously as you progress through the Variables Module. Four formative assessment strategies are used to ensure that all students have opportunities to demonstrate what they understand about science concepts and processes.

TEACHER OBSERVATION
There are two kinds of teacher observations: general and specific. General observation (also referred to as informal notes) is unfocused: you visit with students while they do a hands-on investigation, and simply record noteworthy observations, either outstanding achievement or particular difficulties. It is not necessary to document an observation for every student each time you make informal notes. Specific observations are focused, requiring you to peek over students’ shoulders or conduct 1-minute interviews as they work. The Getting Ready sections of the investigations and the scoring guides in this folio describe the specific behaviors to look for.

STUDENT SHEETS
Generally used by students to organize data during an investigation, student sheets can also provide valuable information about student progress. Scoring guides are provided for those sheets that are most helpful as assessment tools.

RESPONSE SHEETS
Making good observations and using them to develop explanations for how the natural world works is the essence of science. Response sheets are designed to help you assess thinking and written and oral communication skills, to find out what sense students are making of the activities. Response sheets allow both you and your students to review and reflect on their thinking. A response sheet is provided for each investigation; as you become familiar with this strategy, you may want to create your own.

PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT
Performance assessment is designed to look at students’ ability to plan, organize, and conduct investigations—in short, their ability to do science. Often one whole part of an investigation is devoted to this process. There may be as many as three performance assessment scoring guides for an investigation, each examining one of the FOSS assessment variables: content knowledge, conducting investigations, and building explanations.

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note:

End-of-module assessment includes one performance assessment for controlling an experiment, fourteen multiple-choice/shortanswer items, and two narrative items.

 

 


No. 19- Assessment Sheet

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT

Summative assessments are materials you can use at the end of a module to evaluate what students learned from the investigations.

END-OF-MODULE ASSESSMENT
The end-of-module assessment evaluates students’ learning after they finish all the investigations. The assessment has a variety of formats. Performance items require students to use equipment, record findings, and draw conclusions. Multiple-choice/short-answer items focus mostly on content knowledge and give students practice for taking standardized tests. Some items require students to draw diagrams, solve problems, and explain their understandings. These items address all three assessment variables. A detailed scoring guide helps you evaluate students’ overall progress in the module.

PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENTPortfolio assessment is another way to evaluate students’ learning at the end of the module. If you use this type of assessment, have students keep all their work throughout the module in a cumulative folder at school, rather than letting students take the sheets home as they are completed. After the investigations, the Portfolio Checklist guides students’ selection of work for the portfolio. The goal is to have students work with you to develop a checklist, but the Portfolio Checklist in the Assessment Duplication Masters provides a model that you can modify (see page 24 for suggestions). The Portfolio Checklist guides students to select work that shows content, process, improvement, best work, and integrated curriculum. Students write a short paragraph about each piece of work to tell a story about what they have learned.

SCORING ASSESSMENTS
A scoring guide for each assessment starts on page 6 of this folio. Although based on a common rubric for consistency, each scoring guide gives the details you need to easily score each assessment task. In an attempt to keep scoring consistent throughout the module, the above scoring guide was used as the basis for all the scoring guides. You may want to make copies of it for students (see assessment sheet no. 6), so that they have some idea of what they are working toward. Use the scoring guide in discussing student sheets to help students understand how to improve their scores.

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No. 6 - Student Sheet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Further
This response sheet is the first of a series that focuses on experimental design. Throughout this module you should be able to see a pattern of progress from these as well as classroom observation about how well students are learning to control variables and design experiments. Therefore, no remedial work needs to be done at this time.

formative ASSESSMENT

response sheet - Swingers

INVESTIGATION 1: SWINGERS

PART 2: TESTING VARIABLES

Content Knowledge

• A variable is anything that you can change in an experiment that might affect the outcome.

Conducting Investigations

• In a controlled experiment only one variable is changed and the results are compared to a standard.

Building Explanations

• As the length of a pendulum increases, the number of swings in a unit of time decreases.

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No. 7 Student Sheet

TEACHER OBSERVATION - Makes Predictions Based on a Graph

INVESTIGATION 1: SWINGERS

PART 3: PREDICTING SWINGS

Conducting Investigations
• In a controlled experiment one variable changes, and the results are compared to a standard.
• Graphs can be used to make predictions.

Going Further
Use this assessment as a baseline in determining students’ ability to make predictions from graphs. They will have many other opportunities throughout the module. Make a note of those who are having difficulty and spend extra time with them when graphs are made again.

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No. 11 - Student Sheet

formative ASSESSMENT

response sheet - Lifeboats

INVESTIGATION 2: LIFEBOATS

PART 2: LIFEBOAT INSPECTION

Content Knowledge
• Variables are things you can change in an experiment that might affect the outcome.

Conducting Investigations
• In a controlled experiment investigations are conducted in which only one variable is changed and compared to a standard.

Building Explanations
• Sometimes variables outside the immediate system must be considered (temperature differences between outdoors and indoors in this case).

Going Further
Make notes about students who are having difficulty with experimental design and plan to spend a few extra minutes with them, discussing controlled experiments in the next part.

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No. 10 - Student Sheet

TEACHER OBSERVATION —
Makes Predictions and Explains Standard Method

INVESTIGATION 2: Lifeboats

PART 3: INSPECTING OTHER BOATS

Conducting Investigations
• In a controlled experiment one variable changes, and the results are compared to a standard.
• Graphs can be used to make predictions.

Going Further
Make a note of any student still having difficulty making predictions from graphs. Students will have more opportunities to develop the idea of the standard method later in the module.

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No. 14 - Student Sheet

formative ASSESSMENT

response sheet- Plane Sense

INVESTIGATION 3: Plane sense

PART 2: INVESTIGATING VARIABLES

Content Knowledge
• Variables are things you can change in an experiment to affect the outcome.

Conducting Investigations
• In a controlled experiment one variable changes, and the results are compared to a standard.
• A two-coordinate graph displays the effect of a variable on a system.

Going Further
At this point in the module, students should have a good understanding of experimental design. Make note of those students who may still be struggling with this idea and possibly set up a special session to “think out loud” together on the design of an experiment like the one in the response sheet.

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teacher observation - Identifies Variables and Identifies Standard Design

INVESTIGATION 3: Plane sense

PART 3: FlIGHTS OF FANCY

Conducting Knowledge
• Variables are things you can change in an experiment to affect the outcome.

Conducting Investigations
• In a controlled experiment one variable changes, and the results are compared to a standard.

Going Further
At this point in the module, students should be able to reliably identify variables and understand the need for a standard. Plan a remedial session with any students who are still having difficulty with these ideas. You could set up another plane investigation and discuss all aspects of the experiment as it is performed.  

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No. 16 - Student Sheet

STUDENT SHEET— Two-Coordinate Graph

INVESTIGATION 3: PLANE SENSE

PART 4: GRAPHING THE RESULTS

Conducting Investigations
• A two-coordinate graph can be used to organize data from an experiment.
• A two-coordinate graph displays the relationship between an experimental variable and an outcome.

Going Further
Most students should reliably plot data on a two-coordinate graph at this point in the module. If you find students who are having difficulty with this skill, set up a special time to work with them on plotting points from a set of data.

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No. 19 - Student Sheet

 

NOTE:

Students may suggest changing the experimental variable to capacity. Give extra credit for this observation.

formative ASSESSMENT

RESPONSE SHEET— Flippers

INVESTIGATION 4: FLIPPERS

PART 2: FLIP OUT

Content Knowledge
• A variable is anything that you can change in an experiment that might affect the outcome.
• The larger the capacity of a paper-cup boat, the greater the number of passengers it can hold.
• To draw conclusions from an experiment, all but one variable must be controlled.

Conducting Investigations
• In a controlled experiment, one variable changes and the results are compared to a standard.

Going Further
Take special note of students who do not yet have the idea of variables and controlled experiments and spend a few extra minutes with them in the next part.

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No. 16 - Student Sheet

STUDENT SHEET— Two-Coordinate Graph

TEACHER OBSERVATION — Defines System

INVESTIGATION 4: FLIPPERS

PART 3: CONTROLLED EXPERIMENTS

Content Knowledge
• A system is a set of related objects that is working together.

Conducting Investigations
• Data from experiments can be organized on a two-coordinate graph.

Building Explanations
• Graphs can be used to look for errors, make predictions, and understand the relationship between a variable and the results.

Response Sheet

Going Further
Make sure all students can plot data on graphs, can identify the relationship displayed, and have a good sense of system before going on to projects.

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No. 22- Student Sheet

STUDENT SHEET — Project Proposal

TEACHER OBSERVATION — Independent
Investigating and Presentation

INVESTIGATION 4: FLIPPERS

PART 4: CHOOSING YOUR OWN INVESTIGATION

Content Knowledge
• The student and teacher determine the content.

Conducting Investigations
• Students plan an investigation or research, using inquiry techniques and tools learned in this module.

Building Explanations
• Students present results to peers; they use evidence to support conclusions and answer questions from the audience.

Going Further
Make notes about things you will want to work on with students in the next module, especially in terms of presentation skills.

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ADVANCED PLANNING:


During the investigations anything and everything students produce should be kept in the portfolio folder. It is also a nice addition to take photographs of students setting up equipment for various investigations and giving their presentations at the end of the module. All work should be filed away in students’ cumulative work folders or notebooks.

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT

portfolio assessment

PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENT
Portfolio assessment is a way to holistically evaluate students’ progress. It provides a way for students to reflect on what they have learned and how their thinking changed as they worked through the module. It also provides coherent information to parents and other interested parties about what was accomplished during a module.

GETTING READY
If you plan to use portfolios as an assessment tool at the end of the module, start planning for them before you start the module. Instead of sending student sheets and other work home daily, you will keep it at school until the end of the module. You may want to include a note at the bottom of the parent letter before you send it home, telling parents that you will not be sending home daily science work, but that they will see a portfolio at the end of the module.

All students need is a folder for their work during the module. A large piece of construction paper folded in half will work; a regular file folder will provide a bit more protection. A three-ring notebook with pockets also works very well. We have found it best if students do not keep folders in their desks, where they often become mutilated. Instead, keep them together by group in a box in the classroom, easily accessible to students.

If this is the first time students have made science portfolios, you will probably want to use the Portfolio Checklist provided in the Assessment Duplication Masters. The first time, students may need a model, so they can begin to get a feel for what kind of things would go into a portfolio, and how the process works. If students have compiled portfolios before, you and they may choose to work together to build a customized portfolio checklist. Generally, it is good to include things that address the content of the module, things that address the process of inquiry, and things that show students’ development of thinking and logical arguments. You should decide whether to use the checklist provided or to develop your own before you begin the module.

ASSEMBLING THE PORTFOLIO
Give each student a copy of the Portfolio Checklist in the Assessment Duplication Masters, or a copy of one the class has created. Go over the checklist and answer any questions students might have before sending them off to make their selections.

Students’ first task is to choose a piece of work that addresses each item on the checklist. They may need to choose two pieces of work to show improvement, one that shows something they didn’t know much about and a second that shows the improvement made. In this module they might choose two response sheets, one where they could not critique the experiment presented and one they critiqued well, identifying all variables investigated and controlled. Or they might choose two graphs, one in which they needed lots of help to complete and another one they made independently.

After students have chosen all the work for their final portfolio, their next task is to write a short paragraph about each piece they have chosen. Give them half sheets of lined paper that can be stapled to each piece of work, or large self-stick notes with lines that provide enough space. Students should write about each piece of work, creating a story about what they learned in the module.

SHARING THE PORTFOLIOS
After all the work of putting portfolios together, students will want to share them with family and friends. You might invite parents for an afternoon or evening of science in which students share their portfolios. You might also set up a few stations around the room with different pieces of equipment like a mini-hands-on science museum for students to share with their parents. If parents are not available, you might invite another class to share in the fun.

PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENT SCORING GUIDE
To assess the portfolios in the most efficient manner, try grading them holistically.

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TURNING ASSESSMENT SCORES INTO GRADES

The assessment system in this module consists of two kinds of assessment: formative and summative. The purpose of formative assessment is to give you a closer look at student thinking as it develops. From these assessments you make decisions about instruction to help students change naive ideas into more scientifically accepted ones. Summative assessments—the end-of-module assessment and the portfolio—have a different purpose. These are more evaluative methods used to check the extent to which students have developed their ideas once the module is completed. The most valuable information you gain from these assessments is also diagnostic in nature. What ideas do students fully understand? Which areas will you need to concentrate more on next time you teach the module?

Once each quarter or trimester, however, you may be asked to give a grade for your students’ performance in science. Here are some things to keep in mind as you decide how to determine the grades you will give.

• Look for progress in the formative assessments. It takes time for students to develop good methods of science inquiry and be able to build explanations—longer than one science module. • The same scoring guides are used whether it is the beginning or the end of the year. The “harshness” with which you score should be the same at all times. What changes is not the scoring guides, but what constitutes a certain grade. So, for instance, if it is the beginning of the year, you might give an A grade to students who score 2s, 3s, and √s. At the end of the year, you may require students to be scoring more 3s, 4s, and +s for an A.

• The end-of-module assessment is not designed to be a mastery test. It is designed with items at a range of difficulties to help you see more clearly the developmental level of your students. Therefore, if students get 80% of the items right (rather than the traditional 90%), they probably deserve an A for that assessment. Students will perform better on the summative assessments as the year progresses.

• Finally you need to determine the weight you want to put on the formative assessment scores versus the summative scores (the end-of-module test or portfolio). You may also want to include other factors such as group cooperation and effort as part of the final grade. The most important thing to keep in mind—your final grade should be based on multiple pieces of evidence of student performance, not just one test at the end of the module.

Delta Education - FOSS

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