In order to help students learn to become more responsible for their learning, I provide them with a study guide at least a week prior to each unit test. I emphasize the fact that the study guide is merely a guide for studying and that the students still need to review various notes and class activities. I also make a digital copy available to parents and email them to inform them of the test date.
This lesson helps to prepare students for a summative assessment over science process skills, scientific inquiry, and measurement. Because many of the students are still getting used to using technology in the classroom, the assessment is a paper/pencil test that includes filling in a measurement chart, short answer questions, true/false questions, and two essay questions.
This lesson addresses CCSS SL.8.1c because students are expected to pose questions about the study guide and then participate in dialogue to develop correct responses to those questions. In answering and discussing the questions on the study guide, students cover CCSS RST.6-8.3 as they review the steps involved in carrying out experiments and conducting measurements. NGSS SP3 is also introduced as students review the steps required to plan and carry out investigations.
When class begins, students take out their study guides. I ask them if they have any questions about the information on the study guide. My policy on reviewing study guides is that I do not read and answer every question for the students. Instead, I have them ask questions about items they are unsure of. They are welcome to ask questions about every single question on the study guide, if they choose. Instead of simply answering the questions, I redirect the question to the class and wait for a student to answer. Ultimately, I review the correct answer with the students, so they all know the correct answers. I use this approach to encourage students to become more active participants in their learning and to create dialogue between students. I also post a video review of the study guide online for students to review in addition to holding a lunch study session the day prior to the test.
After reviewing student questions about the study guide, I place the students into groups of five. I give each group a set of science vocabulary cards and ask them to classify the cards. My set of note cards was written in two different colors of ink, so some of the students decided to classify them by ink color. While this was clever, it was not exactly what I had in mind, so I asked them to classify the cards based on the definitions of the words. The students have had previous practice with the words on the cards because the words are from our unit information sheet. Halfway through the unit I had the students review the words and highlight them in red, yellow, and green, based on their knowledge of the word's meaning and examples.
Having the students classify the cards requires them to not only know the meaning of the word, but to think about how each word relates to the other words. While the students are working, I move from group to group asking the students to show me their classifications and to defend their choices. I ask the students various questions including: "What is the relationship between….?", "Why do you think….?", and "How is _________related to ……?"
These are the words I have written on the cards:
In this vocabulary review video, the students have decided to place the cards into a qualitative category and quantitative category. They quickly realize that some of the words could fit into both categories, so they create a new category. After filming, I asked the students to describe the criteria for their categories in reference to their words, and they decided to develop completely new categories - scientific processes, scientific method, and other. We revisited their categories during the whole group discussion as they explained their choices to the class and they changed their other category to measurement.
I conclude the lesson with a group discussion reviewing the ways in which the various groups classified their cards. I have one group volunteer to explain how they grouped their cards and then I ask the other groups to describe similarities and differences in their classification. Examples of question stems that I use include: