Reflection: Qualitative Evaluations Day One of Joey's Plant Lab - Section 2: Focus & Motivation


The Line of Learning

The "Line of Learning" is something I learned about in my training at the North Cascades Olympic and Science Partnership - an amazing 3 year learning opportunity that was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.  I wish I could remember who initially proposed the idea, because I would love to give them credit.  It certainly isn't my own.

It is however, a wonderful tool for looking at changes in student thinking before and after instruction.  I give a student an open ended question, and ask them to share their best thinking, and then after the instruction, they draw a "line of learning" and revise or add new information below the line.  With English Language Learners, I have also used the stems:  I used to think . . ., but now I believe . . .; I have learned that . . ., etc.  With beginners, I have had them draw pictures to capture their changes in ideas.  Oftentimes, students can express in a visual, something that they might not be able to express in words.

By examining student's work, I can see the progression of learning - from what new learning students have acquired, to what they have yet to learn.  From this Student Example collected at the end of Joey's Plant Lab (After Lesson 11), I have determined the following:

This student has learned:  new plant structures (e.g. xylem, phloem); materials necessary for plants to grow (e.g. carbon dioxide); that plants transfer their energy (incomplete understanding); and that plant matter is formed from carbon.

The student has yet to learn:  This student still has some confusion between materials and structures (e.g. confusing carbon dioxide as a structure; as well as some confusion about energy transfers.  

In looking at this student's work, I will need to do a quick "check-in" to clarify the difference between materials and structures.  The concept of energy transfers is a difficult one, and I am hopeful that the next few lessons will bring clarity.  This will be on my checklist of things to watch for.  

The "line of learning" is a terrific tool for ongoing assessment, and I am grateful to whomever invented it!

  Qualitative Evaluations: The Line of Learning
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Day One of Joey's Plant Lab

Unit 2: Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems
Lesson 8 of 20

Objective: SWBAT explain how plants acquire their material for growth; describe basic plant structures; and explain how matter cycles through ecosystems.

Big Idea: What materials are absolutely necessary in order for plants to grow? Students construct hydroponic systems and set up a treatment to investigate the effects of sunlight and no-sunlight on plant leaves.

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