Uncovering Student Ideas in Primary Science, Volume 1: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes for Grades K–2

NSTA Press Book

Winner of the Distinguished Achievement Award from PreK-12 Learning Group, Association of American Publishers!

What ideas do young children bring to their science learning, and how does their thinking change as they engage in “science talk”? Find out using the 25 field-tested probes in the newest volume of Page Keeley’s bestselling Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series, the first targeted to grades K–2. This teacher-friendly book is:

Tailored to your needs. The content is geared specifically for the primary grades, with an emphasis on simple vocabulary as well as drawing and speaking (instead of writing). The format of the student pages uses minimal text and includes visual representations of familiar objects, phenomena, or ideas.
Focused on making your lessons more effective. The assessment probes engage youngsters and encourage “science talk” while letting you identify students’ preconceptions before beginning a lesson or monitor their progress as they develop new scientific explanations.
Applicable to a range of science concepts. This volume offers 8 life science probes, 11 physical science probes, and 6 Earth and space science probes that target K–2 disciplinary core ideas.
Ready to use. The book provides grade-appropriate reproducible pages for your students and detailed teacher notes for you, including clear and concise explanations, relevant research, suggestions for instruction, and connections to national standards.

Uncovering Student Ideas in Primary Science is an invaluable resource for classroom and preservice teachers and professional development providers. This age-appropriate book will help you teach more effectively by starting with students’ ideas and adapting instruction to support conceptual change.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:53 PM

Based on the overview, Uncovering Student Ideas in Primary Science sounds like the perfect book for teachers who are promoting "science talk" and engaging activities for young elementary students. This book provides numerous lessons where students can explore the world around them, and document their observations through drawings and discussion. I can't wait to see what this book has to offer!

Megan  (Carlinville, IL)
Megan (Carlinville, IL)

  • on Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:35 PM

The formative assessments in this book provide a chance to have our younger students tell us about what they are thinking and see how their concepts change over time. I learn something every time I use these - from how children are making sense of science to my own ideas about science. Most of all it offers a window into the complex conceptual understanding that develops in early childhood.

Wendi Laurence  (Park City, UT)
Wendi Laurence (Park City, UT)

  • on Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:11 AM

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!

Erin Orth
Erin Orth

  • on Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:54 PM

One key point that drew my interest of this particular book was that it was created with the intent of helping teachers teach more effectively by starting with students' ideas and adapting instruction to support conceptual change. The material provided in this book is targeted for students in grades K-2. The content is divided into three sections: Life science, Physical science, and Earth science. Each probe is followed by a section called Teacher Notes which gives ample information on how to deliver the probe, suggestions for assessment, other related information, as well as additional resources that can be used in addition to the probe. Overall, I feel this is a great purchase for any beginning or experienced teacher looking for some new ideas for teaching science in the primary classroom.

Emily C
Emily C

$26.84 - NSTA Members

$33.55 - Nonmembers

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