Tallying the Final Score
About the Workshop
At the end of a lesson or the culmination of a
unit, how do you assess what your students have learned? As teaching methods
change to take into account student ideas, assessment techniques need to
change, too. Many teachers are now moving away from the traditional test,
and towards alternative forms of assessment. In this workshop, we'll examine
ways to assess the progression of students' thinking and understanding.
The Great Bean Bag Adventure
After investigating the effects of different liquids
on seed sprouting, we turned to temperature. In our fourth experiment, we
explored the effect of heat and cold on seed growth.
What we used:
4 plastic baggies
8 paper towels
12 lima beans (soaked overnight)
dark drawer, cupboard, or closet
What we did:
Folded and placed two paper towels in each baggie.
Added water to each baggie to moisten the towels. Labeled and prepared the
baggies as follows:
- Seed + room temperature (control)
- Seed + heating pad
- Seed + refrigerator
- Seed + freezer
- 3 beans; placed in the dark*
- 3 beans; placed on heating pad in the dark*
- 3 beans; placed in refrigerator
- 3 beans; placed in freezer
*Because the beans in the closed refrigerator and
freezer were in the dark, the beans in the other conditions needed to be
kept in the dark.
Getting Ready (15 min. each)
- Divide into groups according to the Try This!
activity that you chose for your homework assignment. Within your group,
share your lists of content goals for the activity. Then, work together
to generate a group list of process goals.
- Individually, write about the following (in your
journal, if you have one): How have your techniques for assessing student
performance and understanding changed over your teaching career? What might
have contributed to those changes?
Site Conversation 1 (5 min.)
As a group, brainstorm a list of ways that you can support students in
making connections. Discuss how you can know that students have actually
made these connections.
Site Conversation 2 (5 min.)
Tom suggests that the teacher in the clip (Steven Levy) could have stopped
halfway through the pencil box activity to have groups briefly share their
methods. How might this have affected the outcome of the lesson?
Going Further (15 min. each)
- Using the lists of content and process goals that you discussed with
your small group before the broadcast, work again with your group to design
a rubric for the activity.
- Take a minute to recall the topics we've covered in the workshops thus
far. Does the rubric your group designed account for all these parts of
a lesson—from the earliest stage of student thinking and questioning,
to building investigations, to thinking critically about results? If not,
how can you adjust your rubric to allow for these stages of student thinking
and problem solving?
Homework for Workshop 7
What was the best field trip you've ever taken with your students? What
was the worst? Why? Who was the best classroom visitor you've ever had?
The worst? Why? Come to Workshop 7 prepared to share these positive and
The Great Room Cover-up!
Suggested Grade Level: 4-5
Students build a miniature room out of a shoe box, and then calculate
how much wallpaper is needed to wallpaper the interior of the room.
What you need
For each group of 4 students:
Shoe box (ask students to bring in shoe boxes, or get them from a local
Adding machine paper
What to do
- Provide each group with a shoe box to represent their miniature room.
- Have students measure and cut out a door and three windows from construction
paper. Provide students with the dimensions for each; the width of the
door and windows should be the same width as the adding machine paper.
Students should then paste the door and windows to the interior sides (walls)
of the shoe box (miniature room).
- Explain to students that the next step is to cover the inside of the
room with wallpaper, and they will use adding machine paper as wallpaper.
Explain that they need to determine how many centimeters of adding machine
paper they need to EXACTLY cover the inside of the room.
- Use the following types of questions to help students design a method
for determining how much paper they will need:
- What is the width of the paper?
- What is the width of a wall in the room?
- How many strips of paper do you need to cover the width of the wall?
- How much should you subtract for the door and windows.
- What should you do with any wall paper that overlaps around a corner?
- After the students have determined how much wallpaper they need, allow
them to test their results by attaching the wallpaper to the walls.
Designate a cost for the wallpaper per square centimeter, and have students
calculate the cost of wallpapering their miniature rooms.
For younger students
Rather than working with a 3-dimensional shoe box, younger students can
do a similar activity on a 2-dimensional surface. In preparation for this
activity, cut out a large number of 5cm x 5cm pieces of colored paper. Provide
each student with a sheet of centimeter graph paper to represent the wall
of a room. Have students draw a window (any size, anywhere) on their walls.
Then have students calculate how many 5cm x 5 cm squares of wallpaper they
will need to paper the wall without covering the window. Students can paste
the squares to their paper, and see how close they came!
One connection to the Standards
Standard 1: Mathematics as Problem Solving
In grades K-4, the study of mathematics should emphasize problem solving
so that students can--
- use problem-solving approaches to investigate and understand mathematical
- formulate problems from everyday and mathematical situations;
- develop and apply strategies to solve a wide variety of problems;
- verify and interpret results with respect to the original problem;
- acquire confidence in using mathematics meaningfully.
"A major goal of problem-solving instruction is to enable children
to develop an apply strategies to solve problems. Strategies include using
manipulative materials, using trail and error, making an organized list
or table, drawing a diagram, looking for pattern, and acting out a problem."
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, (NCTM). 1989.
Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics. Reston,
VA: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (pg. 24)
About the Contributors
More Workshop Components
Helpful Hints for Successful Site Investigations
The Great Bean Bag Adventure
Invitation to Interact
– Classroom Clips
Suggested Teaching Resources