Reflection: Student Ownership Modeling Atoms and Ions - Section 2: Do Now/Activator


Here is a basic fact of teaching that nobody ever told me before I was buried under a mountain of paper--a teacher cannot grade every piece of work a student completes and remain sane. Time and again I have seen beginner teachers, including myself, get to a place in the school year (often around October) when suddenly I was wondering when I was ever going to correct the work I collected three weeks ago. The truth is, by that point it probably does not matter! Here is what I mean by this seemingly blasphemous statement.

There are two types of work students are doing: assessments for learning, and assessment of learning. The first type of assessment is so that the teacher knows how effective the lessons are and the student knows how well he or she is learning the material. This feedback is vital in making sure that there is regular accountability for both the teacher and the student. If the teacher sees that a minority of students are not learning, it is up to the teacher to check in, maybe with re-teaching or checking in on the student's effort. If a majority of students are not demonstrating mastery of a learning objective, it is probably on the teacher to go reflect and re-strategize about how to teach the material. So, back to my earlier statement about correcting work from 3 weeks ago--if it is this kind of work, then you already missed the boat. Students no longer are grounded in work they did that long ago, and opportunities for reteaching have probably passed if you have moved on to new material. Ideally, you catch up with how the class is going on a regular basis.

Students correcting the element quiz is a good example of this strategy. The student correcting the work gets an additional learning opportunity in the form of looking for mistakes, and every student gets a grade right away--instant feedback. I an quickly look at the grades, check in with students about why they performed poorly, congratulate those who mastered the material, and enter the grades into my grade book and get the work back to the students in one class.

The rule at our school for assessments of learning, are that we return work within one week. By making sure the inbox is clear of assessments for learning, it is a lot easier to meet this target.

Any time I can instantly access my students' learning through assessments of learning, the students and I benefit.

  Sustainability and Instant Feedback
  Student Ownership: Sustainability and Instant Feedback
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Modeling Atoms and Ions

Unit 3: The Atom
Lesson 3 of 7

Objective: Students will be able to use modeling software to ascertain rules about what makes a stable and neutral atom.

Big Idea: Atoms need to balance protons and neutrons in order to be stable. They are considered neutral when the number of protons and electrons are equal, but charge changes when electrons are gained or lost.

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  60 minutes
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