Outdoor and Hands-on: An Assessment (Day 1)

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SWBAT demonstrate that they've learned how to use volume formulas for cones, cylinders and spheres.

Big Idea

Equipped with calculators and measuring tape, students calculate volumes of various objects on the school premises.


10 minutes

The preparation for this assessment takes place over time as I observe the geometrical shapes used in the design of our school. For this unit I search for conical, cylindrical, and spherical items. I make time to measure the objects and find their volumes. Using these measurements I make an answer key for the assessment (See my Pros and Cons reflection for more on this issue).

Here are some of the items I spotted (or borrowed from other teachers):  

  • Orange cones of various sizes used in gym class (image2)
  • Trash Cans 
  • Thermoses (image7)
  • Sports Balls (image4)
  • Flower Pots
  • Conical Paper Cups
  • Water Dispensers (image5)
  • Soda Cans

The lesson takes place in our school yard. I arrange the items in a way that I can sit and watch students as they work. The students enjoy being outside. The flow of activity is like a Stations Activity or a Gallery Walk. 

My students will receive a group grade for this assessment. I like to have students work in pairs. Each group will submit one product and both students receive the same grade. Individual mastery will be assessed in day two of the assessment. I carefully pair students by ability (proficiency with volume). I try for homogeneous pairs so that students can contribute equally to their partnership. My students are used to this style of grouping and they understand my rationale.

It usually takes me about 10 minutes to launch the assessment. Here is the protocol we use:
  1. I hand students the necessary materials
  2. We read the instructions on the Volume Assessment Worksheet together 
  3. I review the Scoring rubric I will be using to evaluate groups




30 minutes

Students will need the following materials:

Before they set out on their journey around the "playing field" I ask that they write down all the formulas they think they will need to make volume calculations. This serves as an effective warm-up and it gives my students a chance to begin collaborating as they brainstorm a list. I say, "You will not be given another opportunity to find any forgotten formulas, so make sure that you and your partner work together to brainstorm a complete list." 

Once students get started I intervene as little as possible. Ten minutes before the end of the class period I announce how much time is left. I encourage students to begin wrapping up and I announce the following as a final checklist:

  1. Make sure to complete the worksheet
  2. You must complete the final section where you are asked to describe any difficulties encountered during the activity
  3. Double check your calculations and make sure that your answers are clearly labeled