I have been trying to think about what exactly an assessment in a NGSS environment would look like. NGSS should of course cause us not only to be rethinking the how we teach and what we teach, but it should also cause a similar rethink on assessment. What follows is an example of what NGSS assessment looks like in my class. Its a first attempt so I would welcome any feedback!
In my 8th grade Life Science class we have been trying to answer the following big question: “How can my knowledge of genetics help feed the world?” We have already answered questions such as “What is rice?” (our model organism for the unit) and “How are traits passed down from generation to generation?”. We are currently researching how to answer the question from this mini unit which is “How do traits and the environment interact?”. We started off by asking the students what do they think they know about the question and they didn’t know much, but that is OK. This allowed us to generate some questions we should investigate which you can see the image below.
ABC (Activity Before Content)
We started off by investigating how the environment might change the frequency of a trait in the environment. We did a simple activity using a bingo set. The groups got to pick 4 different colors of chips, but they could only pick up a total of 10 chips. I would turn the drum so that 5 balls would come out of the shoot and allow a student to pick a number between 1-5. If the number on the ball they choose was an odd number they lost 1 bingo chip of each color however, if the number was even they were to add a bingo chip of each color. The goal of this simple activity was twofold. The first was to introduce the idea that certain traits are more or less frequent in the environment. The second idea is the frequency of those traits can change. From this very simple model we were able to introduce the ideas of selection, selection pressure, and extinction. Now that my students had a very basic understanding of how the environment and traits interact we moved on to a more robust model.
Here is a short animated GIF showing the Bug Hunt Speeds NetLogo model
Net Logo is a program that can be downloaded or run in a browser (the browser is still in Beta and it runs very slowly). We used the Bug Hunt Speeds Net Logo Model for our investigation. The students played with the model to get used to how it works and the options there are for changes. We worked through some general questions like “What happens if we attack the blue bugs?”. This allowed the students to see how the data changed. One of the SEP is data analysis and that is foundational to being able to create proper explanations. I moved around the room asking questions to individual students and group and then we had a class discussion. This created the opportunities for me to do formative assessment of both students and the class. However, I want to know what exactly each student knows and whether or not they can be given a scenario, collect data, and make explanations. In order to do this I created a Google Form.
Here is a link to the Google Form. Below you can see an image that shows a selection of the type of questions I used.
Because of the go to section option in Google Forms, you can set up a single assessment that will take each member of the group to a different set of instructions and questions. This allowed me to put my students into groups of 3, each student choose a number, and then when it was there turn to use the computer (we didn’t have enough to go 1:1) they would get “their” questions without seeing the other questions. This also allows me to compare the answers from all the “1’s” to all the other “1’s”. My goal in doing this little assessment exercise is to get my students using a model, analyzing data, and creating explanations from data. I was also able to assess DCIs MS-LS4-4 and MS-LS4-6. I would love to have feedback and what you think of my attempt at a 3D assessment.
What are you doing different in your assessment to meet the ideals and expectations of NGSS?