As with most my units, I work to design an assessment that allows students to actively demonstrate what they have learned. I aim to give them a concrete example of the material so they can take their new knowledge put it to good use. With this specific project, the student will identify and describe the major element of an earthworm’s habitat. I want the students explain to someone where an earthworm can best survive so the next time they see one somewhere unfamiliar or unsafe place, they will help it find a way home.
• Earthworm Habitat Worksheet
The students come into the class after recess. I have them sit down on their carpet squares. To act both as a kinestic cue and connect them to the material, I ask the students to point and squeeze their pinkie finger. I asked, “What do you feel?” “Skin” “Hard bone” “What of all you felt was the strong muscle? What could you do then?” “Not point” “If you were a worm, what could you do with no skin or muscle?” “Umm..dig?” “Yep, you’re right? In cement?” “No way!” “In dirt?” “Yes..way!” “How can that be possible?” “’Cause dirt is soft and cement is hard. Hard can dig hard but soft can dig soft”. I ask this line of questioning to see if they could access the information that a strong muscle could dig through soil.
I show them a picture of the diagram that I will use use as a summative assessment.
• “The first part of the task is to look at the different habitats (snow, dirt, rock- counting them on my fingers). Match your earthworm to the habitat that can best support it."
• "The second part is explain to a partner why you chose the parts and put them in the place you did."
• "The third part is to record your choice at the bottom of the paper.”
To be successful with no prompting from me, I expect to hear comments about how an earthworm needs soft soil to dig through so it can deposit its waste to enrich the soil.
I have them go back to their tables before I pass out the paper (picture of the earthworm and the habitat selection). “With this earthworm, you get to match it with the correct habitat and explain your choice. First, you draw a line from the snail to the correct habitat. Next, explain your choice to your table partner. Last, fill in the sentence space on the bottom to label your choice.” I make the directions fairly specific yet simple in order to give them an opportunity to demonstrate mastery over the material.
As they match their choice and fill out the sentence stem, I mingle around the class and check in with the students about their choices. The resulting products and related explanation acts as a way to illustrate their processing of the worm lessons. The project based rubric attached is my way to looking at this unit from a lens of performance based assessment.