As with most my units, I work to design an assessment that helps the students better explain the things they have learned. With this diagram, the student will choose from a variety of materials to demonstrate the things that comprise different elements of a tree. Assessments like this are an enjoyable and creative way to show their learning. This process could be adjusted to represent other types of nature as well.
The students came into the class after recess. I have them sit down on their carpet squares and ask them to think about the trees we studied. "Around our playground, there are so many types of trees! The great thing is that each one has the exact same parts." Connecting the material to an every day activity helps activate prior knowledge and helps students better communicate the material, particularly important for an assessment.
I have them sit down on their carpet squares. I ask them to think more about the trees we studied. “There were many different elements that make up a tree. Take a minute and share two elements of a tree with your partner. ” I purposely choose two to have them begin the flow of thinking that will help them access all parts (trunk, crown, branch, leaf) and avoid a group sharing of all elements. My goal with this summative assessment is to see how they combine these elements on their own. “We re going to use different techniques- ways to create a diagram that shows these different parts of a tree.” I introduce this idea both to help them access the information that different elements can combine to create a tree and collaborate with peers to share their knowledge and practice valuable communication skills.
I show them the Assessment paper with a picture of four sections, with a space to label the section. Though there are many components of trees, four elements will provide me with a good sampling of those common in the US. I’ve attached a link to the Google Draw that I used to create the worksheet so you can adjust it to anything that is a part of your environment.
“We get be dendrologists again and look at the different parts of a tree.”
• First, think about the trees we observed.
• Next, choose the four parts of a tree that you think are important to its identification.
• Then, decide how you want to display these parts-draw, glue, or rub this part on one section of the paper.
• Last, explain to a partner why you made these choices.
Creating a diagram with simple visual illustrations would be an easy step, so I create depth (rigor) to the summative assessment by adding the explanation step. To be successful with no prompting from me, I expect to see a combination of selected elements would create a familiar tree.
I have them go back to their tables and pass out the worksheet. “You’ll use this worksheet to show which elements create a tree.” As they make their choices, collect the materials, and begin to connect the elements, I mingle around the class and check in with the students about their choices. The resulting products and related explanations act as a way to illustrate their processing of our tree composition lessons. The project based rubric attached is my way to looking at this unit from a lens of performance based assessment.