Self-Assessment on Energy

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Students self-assess their preparedness for a test on energy and its conservation.

Big Idea

Energy-mass is a conserved quantity that allows us to make predictions for a variety of situations.


One of the most important things I can do for students is to get them to be self-directed learners. This requires that they spend time thinking about what they know and what they still have questions about. 

This class is a review of the material that has been learned so far and applying it to a variety of problems. Specifically, students reflect on their conceptual and mathematical knowledge of the conservation of energy, kinetic energy, potential energy and how they are applied to a variety of real-world situations. CCSS applied here are Math Practice 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, NGSS Science Practice 2: Developing and using models, Science Practice 4: Analyzing and interpreting data and Science Practice 5: Using mathematics and computational thinking; these are both in the context of NGSS Performance Standard HS-PS3-2: Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative positions of particles (objects).

Practice Problems on Energy

20 minutes

I instruct the students to get their homework, the Energy Test Preparation sheet which was given out the previous class. I project the Energy Test Preparation - Solutions to the front of the sheet with a document camera. Students to check their work while I check to see that they completed their homework. 

While students work on this, I walk around the class and record a grade in my grade book for students' homework. Sometimes I collect and correct homework as a way to assign a grade and to determine what students know. In this instance I check for completeness and assign a grade for effort. Since the primary goal of this worksheet is for students to self-assess their understanding, this is appropriate. But I make it clear to students that full effort on homework will benefit both their understanding of the material and their grades on the coming test.

After I check homework completion, I return to the front of the room and display the rest of the solutions. As the solutions are shown, I answer questions that students have. 

Students Self-Assess Their Understanding of Energy

30 minutes

I tell students the Socrates quote that "An unreflected life is not worth living." Therefore students spend some time today to reflect on their own understanding of work, power, kinetic energy, potential energy and how these physics concepts relate to real-life situations. They do the same for the conservation of energy, both a conceptual understanding of this concept and a mathematical application. Students accomplish this self assessment with a review they conduct with the Student Self-Assessment Sheet. Students use this check list to rank their own understanding on a variety of topics that were covered in this unit. To rank their own understanding of each topic, students view their own past work as well as reflect on what they know and understand from the review sheet.  Armed with this knowledge, they know where to focus their study efforts for the test the next day.

When students finish their self-assessment, they are instructed to study for the test. I spend a minute and call on random students to give ideas to the rest of the class for on possible study methods. They supply ideas such as make flash cards, redo sample problems and read through their notes. I inform students that they can make a one-page note sheet for tomorrow's test and they can put anything they want on the sheet.

While students work on their self-assessments and study for the test, I call up students one at a time to meet with them. I review their self-assessment and have a conversation about whether I agree with their self-assessment. We then discuss ways they can improve their understanding of the areas where they need most help.