Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volume 1: 25 Formative Assessment Probes


Before your students can discover accurate science, you need to uncover the preconceptions they already have. This book helps pinpoint what your students know (or think they know) so you can monitor their learning and adjust your teaching accordingly. Loaded with classroom-friendly features you can use immediately, the book is comprised of 25 “probes”—brief, easily administered activities designed to determine your students’ thinking on 44 core science topics (grouped by light, sound, matter, gravity, heat and temperature, life science, and Earth and space science).

The probes are invaluable formative assessment tools to use before you begin teaching a topic or unit. The detailed teacher materials that accompany each probe review science content; give connections to National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks; present developmental considerations; summarize relevant research on learning; and suggest instructional approaches for elementary, middle, and high school students. Other books may discuss students’ general misconceptions about scientific ideas. Only this one provides probes—single, reproducible sheets— you can use to determine students’ thinking about, for example, photosynthesis, moon phases, conservation of matter, reflection, chemical change, and cells. Each probe has been field-tested with hundreds of students across multiple grade levels, so they’re proven effective for helping your students reexamine and further develop their understanding of science concepts.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
  • High
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Reviews (5)
  • on Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:57 PM

I first discovered Page's "Uncovering Student Ideas" series when I began my National Board certification process. The prompts provided me with lots of great class discussion prompts and quick assessments I could use with my students to identify the misconceptions they had on the big ideas of Science. I have used the entire series for assessing student understanding, small and large group class discussions, and to fill those 5 or 10 minute "unexpected" moments that arise during the day. The prompts are so popular, students beg to do them because they feel like,"We learn so much!" This series is so helpful, I would not consider teaching without it.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

  • on Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:03 PM

The formative assessment probes are useful and have allowed us to move forward with an more comprehensive assessment plan.

Amy  (Newark, DE)
Amy (Newark, DE)

  • on Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:42 AM

Why reinvent the wheel when this book and the other volumes of it are full of Probes that are designed to identify student misconceptions on a variety of science concepts. Great book!

Shelley Campbell  (New London, MO)
Shelley Campbell (New London, MO)

  • on Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:31 AM

I used the series Uncovering Student Ideas in Science in two of my workshops on lecture-free teaching. These sessions were for high school and middle school science teachers. In one instance, the teachers (with whom I had worked previously) picked one of the formative assessments, tried it in their classrooms before the scheduled workshop date, and reported to the rest of the group about how it worked. In the second instance, I brought the books to the workshop and gave the teachers about 30 minutes to find an assessment appropriate for one of their classes, make copies for the other participants, and try the assessment on the workshop participants. In both cases each presentation was followed by critique and suggestions from other workshop participants.

Bonnie Wood  (Presque Isle, ME)
Bonnie Wood (Presque Isle, ME)

  • on Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:23 AM

This is my first year using this book, but I have found the probes I've used to be revealing of student misconceptions and great discussion starters. Volume 2 makes a great companion book since volume 1 is mostly geared toward physical science topics.

Rob  (Plattsmouth, NE)
Rob (Plattsmouth, NE)

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