As with most my units, I work to design an assessment that helps demonstrate independent application. The more they apply their learning, the better they will appreciate the value of these bugs. Once they learn about and recreate their structure, my goal is to have them to look at these bugs in a different way, education opportunities instead of pests. With this creative project, the students will identify the major elements of an isopod with their model. I want the students take their project home and explain these isopod parts to someone in a way that helps them better understand the importance of this simple yet engaging animal.
• Oval shaped materials (craft foam, large beans, etc.) for body
• Pipe cleaners or paper scraps for antennae and legs
The students come into the class after recess. I have them sit down on their carpet squares and ask them to think about what makes the isopod structure unique. “What do you think of first?” “Curly shell” “Lots of legs that are the same” “Anything else?” “Not really” I ask this line of questioning to see what they remembered about the prior instruction. For example, overlapping plates on the shell protects isopods or the leg sets help mobility. Their choice of information will help them create a product that I can use as a summative assessment.
I show them a picture of the pill bug and sow bug from the first lesson. “We get to create our own isopod with the most important features that you noticed and remembered. You can choose to make either a pill bug or a sowbug. You just need to tell me which it is and why it's different. The first part we need to include is the overlapping plates on the oval shell. We learned that the pill bug curls and the sowbug stays flat so keep that in mind. The next part we mentioned was the ….” “Legs!” “Right, so include 5-6 sets (that’s pairs or groups of twos).” Since counting by twos is included in CCSS, I added this Math vocabulary for practice. “The last step is to explain to a partner why you chose the parts and put them in the place you did.” To be successful with no prompting from me, I expect to hear comments about how an isopod need the shell for protection and moisture retention, along with legs to move quickly from predators.
I have them go back to their tables and pass out the materials (paper picture of the isopods and craft materials like beans, pipe cleaners, egg cartons, and paper). “With this isopod, you get to create it with the material of your choice. As long as you include the features related to its survival, you can be as creative as you want.” I choose this approach because, let’s face it, isopods aren’t the most complicated of subjects. I want them to get excited about this assessment. By allowing them to be creative, it provides instant engagement. “First, you decide what to use for the body. Remember the shape. Next, choose what to use for the legs. Remember to choose the correct quantity and length. Then, put them together. Last, have fun!” I make the directions fairly specific yet simple in order to give them an opportunity to demonstrate mastery over the material.
As they make their choices and begin to create their isopod, 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 isopod lessons. The attached project based rubric is my way to look at this unit from a lens of performance based assessment.