As with most my units, I work to design an assessment that helps the students better explain what they have learned. In this summative assessment, the student will connect sun’s use in a garden. Then they will place plants in the correct location and design a structure if they decide one is needed. Though the paper piece is simple, I’m looking for oral comments like “The tomatoes need more sun to grow.” or “The tiny flowers needed more shade.” to show their learning. This process could be adjusted to represent other types of variable other than sun. The format will make it easier for you to adjust it to your unique needs.
The students came into the class after recess. I have them sit down on their carpet squares and ask them to think about how sun effects the plants we studied. “We observed many different effects of the sun. Take a minute and share two elements with your partner.” My goal with this summative assessment is to see how they apply these elements on their own. Though I purposely avoid a group share of all these elements, it helps to share two elements with the whole class to get the process started. “What is an important thing that the sun does for plants?" "It helps them grow!" "Anything else?" "It evaporates!" "Both of those are accurate. We’re going to create a drawing to illustrate the way sun effects certain plants in a garden. Then, you’ll add one explanation why that environment is a good fit for those plants.”
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 plant environments, 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 gardeners again.”
• First, draw a few kinds of plants (e.g. tomatoes, flowers) in the garden.
• Next, decide which plants need more or less sun and add in the appropriate elements.
• Then, if needed, draw a structure over plants that need less sun.
• Last, explain to a partner why you made this choice.
Filling in a blank would be an easy step, so I create depth (rigor) to it by adding the explanation step. To be successful with no prompting from me, I expect to hear comments like why a certain plants need more of less less sun (e.g. plant structure, stage of development, evaporation).
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. While English Learners struggle a bit with their vocabulary and word selection, our conversations help me understand their command of the concept. The resulting products and related explanations act as a way to illustrate their processing of our sun lessons. The project based rubric attached is my way to looking at this unit from a lens of performance based assessment.