Classifying Classification by: Janice Novakowski

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This article describes the experience of a group of first-grade teachers as they tackled the science process of classification, a targeted learning objective for the first grade. While the two-year process was not easy and required teachers to teach in a new, ore investigation-oriented way, the benefits were great. The project helped teachers and students focus on “doing” science, developed teachers’ formative assessment strategies, and showed teachers the value of allowing students different ways to share what they know or how they do things.

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Reviews (6)
  • on Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:03 AM

In the article, there is a project, which witnessed those young students grow in many ways. Students were able to think like scientists, and they truly felt like scientists when they were engaged in these classification tasks. I think that is the most important meaning of the project. As you have mentioned, providing appropriate science content according to different grade levels is an effective way to help students build a deeper understanding of how to categorize things. In addition, I think it is also a good idea that planning the students' next classification performance task based on their performance on the last task, considering whether most students in the class are ready for a more complex task or need more experiences with similar tasks.

Xiaomeng Ni
Xiaomeng Ni

  • on Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:41 PM

Janice Novakowski wrote an article called Classifying Classification where she talks about the experiences that help first-grade students build a deeper understanding of how to categorize things. This article states that an evolving project is important for learning classification, in which students are asked to collect fall leaves and complete matching or sorting tasks. Then the students can have enough opportunity to recognize and identify that different leaves have their peculiar features in color, size, and shape. After using these peculiar features to classifying leaves, students can be divided into groups to discuss what they learned or what experience they gained in the process of observing and sorting fall leaves. And the teachers would find ways to test two or three performance tasks with students each term. Listening and making comments to students’ answers when they are involving in the task or discussion activities would be a helpful assessment process. Also, the comments, questions, and connections made my students can be recorded for further reference and guidance on planning appropriate tasks over the school year. Only in this way can students be effectively engaged in classification activities. As a future early childhood educator, this journal article would be extremely helpful for me to teach science to my students. I believe that we can ask students to complete evolving projects which can involve them in matching, sorting, categorizing, and interpreting tasks to develop their classification ability. And teachers should fully understand the process of classification themselves to make the most effective instructional decisions. Providing appropriate science content according to different grade levels can also help students build a deeper understanding of how to categorize things

Zihan Shao
Zihan Shao

  • on Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:59 PM

In this article, teachers help first graders understand more about classification and categorizing. Firstly, an evolving project is significant. Students are required to collect fall leaves and find others leaves to match theirs. During the observation, students will recognize each leaf has their features, such as color, size, shape, so they can use these characteristics to classify leaves. Then, they will discuss how the leaves in the same group look similar and can they find another way to sort these leaves. Students should be tested through performance tasks. This article provides a performance standard about the process of classification. There are several parts: skills and processes not yet within expectations, meets expectations, fully meets expectations and exceeds expectations. In addition, the author mentioned categorizing tasks such as classifying forest finds. Students will find some objects in the forest and sort these items into living, nonliving, and both. However, teachers should pay attention to not to limit students choose on categorizing. Students can also think about other ways to sort their findings. Teachers ought to make final reflections for long-term planning. They also need to connect their instruction to the standards in science. Classifying is essential for students to develop their understanding of science investigation. Students can engage in classification tasks with the guidance of teachers. They can try to think logically and creatively like a scientist.

Zhengyun Lu
Zhengyun Lu

  • on Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:56 PM

A group of first grade teachers decided to develop a performance assessment for the targeted learning objective for the scientific process of classification. The teachers began with having their student’s match (matching occurs when students match new items to existing items) and sort (sorting require a higher cognitive process as the categories may be provided) items by examining their similarities and differences. They then moved on to more complex tasks such as categorizing and interpreting tasks, which involved defining characteristics and then looking for connections between different categories. The authors described how they led their students through the different levels of classification, offering excellent assessments to determine if their students needed more experiences in order to develop the skills and language needed. I found this an extremely helpful article for teachers of young children to help them understand the pedagogy needed to help their students be successful in their efforts of classification.

Sue Garcia  (Spice wood, TX)
Sue Garcia (Spice wood, TX)

  • on Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:08 AM

A group of first grade teachers develop a continuum of classification skills to address their student’s needs. Starting at the process of matching, students then are able to sort objects. Sorting is followed by categorizing, and all culminates in interpreting. Examples of each of the tasks are given and the assessment appropriate for that level of task. The development of this continuum guided curriculum development and science instruction.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:15 AM

I read the article called Classifying Classification, which mainly talks about the experiences that develop students’ classification for two years in the first grade. There is one thing the article mentioned I am interested: Some challenging classification tasks for students require teachers “need to fully understand the process of classification themselves in order to make the most informed instructional decisions about where students were in their experiences and understanding”(Janice, 2009). Therefore, teachers should make a comprehensive preparation and any contingencies. Depending on students’ grade level, they set different targets. In the first grade, teachers execute matching tasks and sorting tasks in two different terms. Matching occurs when students match new items to an existing item; sorting requires a slightly higher cognitive demand as the categories may be provided (Janice, 2009). In the first term of 1st grade, the task is Fall Leave Hunt. Students are asked to go outside to look for leaves they like and then classify them. In the second term, the task is called magnetic sort, which requires students list materials in the classroom or outside and the teachers provided two categories for the students to work with (magnetic/nonmagnetic). Then students use a magnet to sort these things into groups. I learned the two activities and I believe it will be fun if I apply them into my future class. In the third and fourth term of second grade, the research project carried categorizing tasks and interpreting tasks, which demands high level of classification (Janice, 2009). No matter in science class or math class, I will have “matching and sorting experiences in the early part of the school year, using objects such as leaves and pumpkins” (Janice, 2009). As the school year progresses, I will “move to more complex tasks on the continuum, classifying events, images, or ideas, instead of actual objects” (Janice, 2009).


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