As with most my units, I work to design an assessment that helps the students better explain the things they have learned. The student will draw an object made of wood. Then they will identify the type of wood that would be a good material for that object, along with an explanation. I’m looking for something like “I made the house out of oak because it’s strong.” or “I made the picture frame out of balsa because it’s light and won’t fall down.” These types of explanations show an accurate application of the material. This process could be adjusted to represent other types of building materials as well. I’ve included the link to the Google Draw sheet to make it easier for you to adjust to your unique needs.
The students came into the class after recess. I have them sit down on their carpet squares. I ask them to think about the wood we studied. “There were many different qualities that make up wood. Take a minute and share two elements of wood with your partner.” I purposely avoid a group sharing of all elements (strong, dense, heavy, light, color, etc.) because my goal with this summative assessment is to see how they apply these elements on their own. “We’re going to create a drawing to show one way wood is used. Then, you’ll add an explanation why that wood is good for that purpose.” I introduce this idea both to help them access the information that different woods have different characteristics suited to unique purposes.
I show them the Assessment paper with a space to draw the picture as well as a line to explain the choice. Though there are many types of wood, the drawing and explanation will provide me with adequate information for this summative assessment because it pulls together the different parts of the unit.
“We get be architects or carpenters again and show ways to use wood.”
• First, think about the varieties of wood we studied.
• Next, draw one thing that is made out of wood.
• Then, decide which variety of wood is best suited to that thing.
• Last, explain why you chose that type of wood.
Filling in a blank 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 hear comments demonstrating how and why a certain wood is suited to an application.
I have them go back to their tables and pass out the worksheet. As they make their choice, draw the object, and explain their answer, I mingle around the class and check in with the students about their choice. The resulting products and related explanations act as a way to illustrate their processing of our wood lessons. The project based rubric and student checklist attached is my way to looking at this unit from a lens of performance based, reflective assessment.