As with most of my units, I work to design an assessment that gives the students a concrete demonstration of a connection between the subject and its function. With this diagram, the student will match an animal to its habitat. To extend this idea, they will also identify one essential need that is unique to the animal. I chose this to build an activity around the idea that every animal needs a place to live that’s right for them. It’s our job as animal stewards to make sure these places are respected and protected and units like this support that goal. I want the students to go home with this project and explain these elements to someone in a way that helps everyone better understand the value of all living things.
• Animal Habitat Assessment Worksheet
After the students come into the class after recess, I have them sit down on their carpet squares. I ask the students to think about what animals they saw when they were outside. “Birds” “Worms” “Roaches” So I asked them, “What makes a habitat fit some of those animals and not others. What do you think of first?” “Water” “Plants” “Anything else?” “Camouflage” I ask this line of questioning to see if they could access the information about the features that were unique to different animals.
I show them a picture of the four featured animals from our habitat lessons. “We get to match an animal with the habitat that best supports its survival. Then we'll pick one important thing the animal needs that is unique to this habitat. The first step is to draw a line from the animal to it’s proper habitat. The next part is to draw a line from the habitat to the essential need. The last step is to explain to a partner why you made these choices.” To be successful with no prompting from me, I expect to hear comments like how a fire bellied toad needs moisture from a plant or a spider needs flying insects for food. Comments like this would illustrate the student has made a connection between the animal, function, and essential need.
I have them go back to their tables and pass out the worksheet. “You’ll use this worksheet to show how animals use their habitat to survive. To complete this worksheet, you’ll use the information you got when you designed the habitats for these animals. To help yourself and others, think back on what you put in them.” I want them to become engaged with this assessment so I connect it to work they already completed to give them a sense of ownership. Since this is a summative assessment, I make the directions fairly specific yet open in order to give them an opportunity to demonstrate mastery over the material.
As they make their choices and begin to match their animals and habitats, I mingle around the class and check in with the students about their choices. The resulting products and related explanations act to illustrate their understanding of the habitat lessons. The project based rubric and student checklist attached is a way to look at this unit from a performance based assessment lens, with a self-reflection element added for good measure!