Reflection: Checks for Understanding Natural Selection in the Wild Discovery - Section 4: Pre-assessment


In the past, I haven't been the biggest fan of pre-assessment.  It seemed to me that most of my students came to me with pretty much the same level of knowledge about science (low) and the process of science (even lower).  I felt like assessing that up front was a waste of time because I already knew they didn't know anything.  It seemed to me that one of the worst ways to use pre-assessment was to give the test at the beginning of the unit (check- they know nothing) and then give the test at the end of the unit (check- They learned! Growth!)

Recently, my ideas about this have changed greatly and I now think that pre-assessment is much less about proving growth and much more about uncovering though processes.  This is why I like the Page Keeley books so much.  Every probe is carefully designed with common misconceptions in mind and they help show where students are in the core concepts.  These probes are truly meant not to MEASURE instruction but to INFORM instruction. 

One method for planning instruction after use is to use a percentage system like below;

10% of students have a misconception-  Call in those students individually for a conversation to probe for thinking.

10-30% of students have a misconception- Pull small groups during class to address the thinking using an activity.

30-50% Organize a tiered lesson with different objectives.

Over 60%- Consider more universal instruction using problem based learning, a discrepant event, or a guided analysis lab.  

  Checks for Understanding: Pre-Assessment
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Natural Selection in the Wild Discovery

Unit 11: Adaptation: Natural Selection in the Wild
Lesson 1 of 8

Objective: Students will be able to use a computer simulation to model natural selection.

Big Idea: Watch mutations change a population over time!

  Print Lesson
Science, simulation, natural selection
  34 minutes
evolution lab
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