• Paper outline of snail's body
• Pipe cleaners (2) 2" pieces per student
• Small (6") paper bowls, 2 per student
As with most my units, I work to design an assessment that goes beyond a pencil and paper product. This gives the students something they create and can use as a reference going forward. This kind of performance based assessment creates a concrete experience and connects the material with the product and the real world. For English Learners, as well as setting foundation knowledge for everyone, a tangible product gives valuable context to the material.
With this specific project, the student will identify the major parts that are shared by water and land snails and record with a visual model. They can use either a water or land snail as an example, as long as they could identify the major body parts (upper tentacles, foot, shell, mouth) that were shared by both. I want the students to go home and be able to show someone a product that shares their excitement of learning about something so common, yet essential to the balance of nature, as a snail.
The students come into the class after recess. I have them sit down on their carpet squares. I explain, “We learned about snails in this unit. I ask the students to put their pointer fingers up near their foreheads and wiggle them around. “What body part am I?”. “Tentacles!” “Now open your lips. What am I now?” “Mouth” “Use your body structure to raise it up, down, and around. What is this?” “Body..no, foot!” “Now curl into a ball. What is your back suppose to represent?” “Easy. A shell”. We learned about the parts of a water snail and a land snail, how they are the same and different. Today, we get to apply what we learned and create our own snail!”.
“The first step of the task is to take the snail parts-'foot, shell, tentacles, mouth'- (counting them on my fingers) and create your snail. The second step is to explain to a partner why you chose the parts and put them in the place you did.” With this part, I expect to hear comments about snail parts that are common to both types (shell, foot, tentacles, mouth) and their purpose (mobility, protection, sensing) with no prompting from me.
I have them go back to their tables and pass out the materials (paper picture of the snail foot, two paper bowls, pipe cleaners). “With this snail, you get to put the parts that you’ve learned together to create a snail. It’s pretty easy. First, you cut out the snail foot. Next, you get the shell parts and glue or staple the bowls together to create a shell over the body. Last, you create tentacles for the snail.” I purposely make the directions a little vague in order to give them a chance to demonstrate mastery over the material by creating and placing them appropriately.
As they cut and glue the parts, I mingle around the class and check in with the students about their choices. An option for students who finish early is to color in the snail like one that they have observed either in the garden, classroom, or a picture. The project based rubric attached is my way to looking at this unit from a lens of performance based assessment. The related student checklist is a method that helps the student develop self-direction as well as skill mastery. The resulting products, related explanation, and self-reflection act to apply what they learned in this unit.