Collaborative Student Groups

Critical Friends: Portfolio Preparation

Getting high school students to collaborate effectively can be tricky, though certain digital tools do a great job of making teamwork more seamless. Groups in my class keep document their lab activities using video recording, Youtube, and Google Apps for Ed, and compile Wikispaces digital portfolios with their work (see “Lab Documentation” strategy). Before submitting final drafts students engage in a Critical Friends review period where groups present their portfolios and offer critical feedback. First, each group gets Portfolio Preparation planning time where they can revisit the data they’ve collected, make sure all charts, tables, graphs, images, and videos are accurate, and pair them with solid written analyses. Labs are power learning activities, but oftentimes students are too busy trying to “complete work” instead of reflecting on the meaning of their results. Groups exhibit better teamwork when they have time allotted specifically to prepare portfolios, ultimately leading to more polished lab reports and focused class time.

Strategy Resources (4)
Student Work Sample
 
 
Use of content hosting platforms like wikispaces make it easy for other groups to see each section of a group's portfolio, and offer feedback in a streamlined process. Neopolitan Dynamite's "Can You Make 2.00 Grams of a Compound" lab is featured in this public wikispaces page with procedure videos removed for privacy concerns.
Rubric
 
 
This is the science fair rubric that students made last year based on the lab report issues that emerged across all submitted work. When students make the rubric themselves, they are much more inclined to follow along with it!
Student Work Sample
 
 
The end of the year science fair pulls everything together for one cohesive project that paints a clearer picture as to how far students have come in their ability to design and implement lab experiments. I provide them with guidelines for each piece of their lab development to highlight what protocol must be followed and remind them what parts are crucial in the process.
Rubric
 
 
This is the science fair rubric that students made last year based on the lab report issues that emerged across all submitted work. When students make the rubric themselves, they are much more inclined to follow along with it!
Student Work Sample
 
 
The end of the year science fair pulls everything together for one cohesive project that paints a clearer picture as to how far students have come in their ability to design and implement lab experiments. I provide them with guidelines for each piece of their lab development to highlight what protocol must be followed and remind them what parts are crucial in the process.
Student Work Sample
 
 
Use of content hosting platforms like wikispaces make it easy for other groups to see each section of a group's portfolio, and offer feedback in a streamlined process. Neopolitan Dynamite's "Can You Make 2.00 Grams of a Compound" lab is featured in this public wikispaces page with procedure videos removed for privacy concerns.
Jeff Astor
Cindy and Bill Simon Technology Academy High School
Los Angeles, CA


 

About this strategy

Prep Time:
Long
Subject:
Science
Grade:
Eleventh grade
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Independent Student Learning
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Assessment & Data
Real-Time Data

10 years ago, great teachers would hastily grade free-response questions overnight in an effort to provide feedback to students in a timely manner. However, the days of using data as taillights are behind us. Tools like Educanon, Formative, and Google Docs make it easy to collect actionable data and make informed, instantaneous decisions around dynamic grouping, individual competencies, and even customized learning paths. For example, Formative allows me to upload a document, designate areas for student input (multiple choice, free response, and even drawing), and then assign the activity to students. As students fill in the doc at their own pace, the teacher interface is updated in real-time so that I know which students need my help and when. I can pair struggling students with those who are just figuring it out, gather students for small group instruction, or re-teach concepts when there is a trend of misconceptions. Beyond that, catching student miscues as they happen makes it easier for me to help students polish unfinished work, fill in gaps in knowledge before summative assessments, and learn how to correct their own mistakes.


 
Feedback Systems
Critical Friends: Wreck-It

My first college lab report really humbled me when it was handed back covered in red ink – my professor was asking for a lot of revisions. However, this feedback was crucial to my development as a scientist, and I want to expose my students to the feedback and revision loops I experienced before they had off to more advanced schooling. Students learn to give and receive feedback during the Critical Friends review period that occurs at the end of big labs. At this stage in the class each group presents their lab results to another group using Wikispaces digital portfolios, and then makes an argument as to how their results answer the lab’s guiding question. Classmates then offer targeted feedback during the Wreck-It portion of Critical Friends, before each group reconvenes to make necessary edits to their work. Students love when they get to play devil’s advocate and present critical “wreck-it” counter-points to other groups' arguments. It’s important to remind students to also offer advice on how to improve the other groups’ portfolio and help them build a more cohesive argument. Each group then reconvenes and makes the necessary edits to their work. Adding more critical eyes to student work makes my job as a teacher more manageable, and guarantees improved overall lab report quality. My goal is that by the time my students take college chemistry or organic chemistry, they will have already had experience assessing the validity of lab analyses and improving experimental design, data collection, and other crucial lab components.

 
 
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