Developing our own assessment is a sure fire way of creating an authentic testing experience for students that develop a feeling of ownership and accountability. This assessment was developed from the lesson two days before. One student contributed a daffodil drawing that I edited into the test. While you are welcome to copy this test, the drawing is one of my student's and I encourage you to develop a test collaboratively as we did to make it authentically appropriate for your own class. I allowed a day in between for them to use their notes to study that we had collaborated and developed together.
As students got ready to take the exam, I wanted to explain each section and help them completely understand what I expected. I had written the "I Can Statement" on the top of the exam to help them remember what standard they were focusing on.
I told them that they could use any of their notes from their science notebook, any of their photos or videos and any other sheets from the lessons from the unit to support them in this exam. But, I told them that I expected that everything they wrote, would have evidence behind the statements. I explained that this wasn't cheating and that I expected high quality writing from them. I wanted them to re-read, edit and take pride in working on this. Rather than having them worry about memorizing facts, I am looking for reflective writing. This compliments the inquiry process they have been working on and also allows them to enjoy what they have learned. The purpose of this assessment is to show mastery of this standard for plants, and not for them to simply regurgitate facts.
As I passed out the exam, I told them that I hoped that they enjoyed the unit and that they have a deeper appreciation for the plants we studied.
After I passed out the exam, we read each section out loud and talked about any questions we had about expectations and shooting for excellence. This exam took about 45 minutes. Students sat around the room, on the floor, away from each other or they chose to sit at their desks. This allowed them freedom to be comfortable and think reflectively. It eased the tension and helped them write well. I think that test taking should be done in a comfortable environment so the student can demonstrate their best work. Students worked to completion, and some had to complete it the next day because they really took their time. I am wondering if the level of ownership had something to do with that? The proof will be revealed soon!
The student samples are located in the last reflection. Check them out!