Erin Orth

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Recent Reviews by Erin

Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:11 AM
5 A valuable resource!
This guide for primary elementary teachers will be a valuable resource for those looking to utilize formative assessment strategies in their science classrooms. Organized by the three science domains, Life Science, Physical Science and Earth and Space Science, each section provides several probes that each address different concepts within the domain. A concept matrix is included at the start of each section to help teachers in selecting appropriate probes. Each student probe comes with information for the teacher including its purpose, related concepts, explanations, curricular connections, and suggestions for administering as well as for further instruction or assessment. The purpose of these probes is to allow the teacher to gather valuable information regarding his/her students’ prior knowledge and/or misconceptions of science content. The probes are open-ended, many of them beginning with a question and/or a picture and then finishing with “What are you thinking?”. Students’ responses and justification provide insight into their ideas and allow teachers to plan further differentiated instruction to help students construct meaning. These probes can also be used to assess students after learning content, to help determine if more instruction is needed to address gaps and misconceptions. I have used several of the probes in my own science classroom and have found the book to be very user-friendly. There is little preparation of materials needed to administer most of the probes. For example, the probe ‘Is It Matter?’ only involves copying the sheet with the question and pictures, though one can always choose to provide actual materials along with the sheet if they wish. The ensuing discussion and the students’ written responses helped me to determine what ideas they already had about matter, and if any of them realized that EVERYTHING is matter (none did at the beginning). I was able to plan future instruction based on what I had learned from this simple probe, and used it again at the end of our lessons on matter. It was interesting to have the students compare their ideas from the beginning of the unit to those at the end of the unit to see how they had changed. I would highly recommend this book to any elementary teacher! Ready-made, inquiry-based formative assessments are a great tool that will help you plan appropriate science instruction based on your students’ needs. A bonus - there are several volumes in this series, including a set for K-12 students as well. They are definitely worth checking out!