UbD Final Reflection

Overview

The Intertidal Life UbD Unit I created was designed to be used at a third grade level. I am not currently teaching, so I planned on using my own two children and three of their friends as my students. Schedules and weather proved to be too much to overcome,

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and my class size was reduced to two. Student 1 (C) is a third grader and student 2 (F) is a kindergartner.

Formative Assessment Analysis to Guide Unit

Before the official start of my unit, I gave my students a pretest to determine their levels of prior knowledge. The pretest, which is also the posttest, consisted of four open-ended questions because I wanted to try to eliminate as many lucky guesses as possible. I used this opportunity to work with the students individually on the talk to text apps on their tablets, which I was hoping they would choose to use during the unit.

As I documented in my Week 11 blog post and on Twitter that week, I encountered some unexpected results on the pretest that would require modifications to the unit.

“Pretest: My remaining students are in kindergarten and 3rd grade. I had them both take the pretest so I could determine their current levels of understanding and change up a few things in my unit if I needed to. I expected very limited understanding from the kindergartner, but both gave solid definitions for habitat and both gave excellent examples of animals that could live together and animals that could not with reasons why. Both answered that animals need food and shelter to survive, but they were a little shaky on more items. The 3rd grader knew exactly what the intertidal zone was, and the kindergarten student had no idea. This led me to rethink the items I wanted to stress and what I would need to do to support the younger student in his acquisition of intertidal knowledge.” – Week 11, Implementing the Unit

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After this experience, I really gained an appreciation for the information I was able to gather from the pretest, and the way it helped me use my unit in a way that was most beneficial to my students. We didn’t need to waste time going over information they already understood, and instead could investigate the content at a deeper level. This seemed to be a miniature version of curriculum compacting, one of the methods of differentiation that I am learning about in the gifted and talented education classes I am taking.

Student1Pretest, Student2Pretest

Contributing to Individual Paths of Learning

An example of evidence collected where I contributed to the individual path for learning happened in the first day of my unit. Both of my students had taken the pretest, and the younger student had failed to even provide a guess as to the meaning of the word intertidal. While I had planned on introducing this vocabulary through a series of activities, including a video and a book, a fortuitous change in our schedule of events sent us to the beach on the first day of our learning adventure. In my journal reflection from that first day, I documented how this student was able to gain an understanding of the vocabulary in a very authentic setting.

Journal Entry Day 1:
The unit is off and running. I gave the pretest to my students yesterday and today we went to the beach for our first field trip. I know this is not what was planned for Day 1, but we ran into a few obstacles which made going to the Science Center impossible. Rather than forego the entire day of learning, I decided to rearrange the schedule a bit. I hope this doesn’t create any additional challenges down the road.
Our time at the beach was typical for Southeast Alaska. It was a bit wet, but the tides were great for observations and nothing got ruined, which was actually a bit of a concern with bringing technology to the water. The students raced around looking for organisms to photograph, not necessarily out of excitement, but rather because I told them that if they documented a certain number along with a description, we could go home and have ice cream. There was a quick conversion from the paper and pencil recording of observations to the talk to text app on the tablets because it really helped expedite the process of documentation. I’m not sure the photography is the best they could have managed under less rushed circumstances, but the organisms they wanted to highlight are in the pictures…win!
On the pretest, the younger student did not know the meaning of the word intertidal. Because we were at the beach and the tide was low, I felt that the opportunity to actually show him the meaning of the word was perfect. We walked from the high tide line down to the water’s edge. I told him we were walking in the area between where the high tide is highest and the low tide is lowest, where sometimes it is covered with water and sometimes it is not, and this was the intertidal zone. His eyes lit up, and he said, “I guess inter means between, right?” Concept connection made!

I created a journal (UbDorgtemp) for students to use at the beach when they were recording their observations. There was a space for a drawing of the organism and room to write a description of the organism. Because one of the students is in kindergarten and is still learning the finer points of writing, I encouraged him to use the talk to text app to record his observations and the camera on his tablet to take pictures of the organism. My second student also saw the value in this (speed) and used her tablet in the same manner. This allowed both students to capture their thoughts and the images they wanted without the frustrations of asking someone how to spell something (although talk to text did make some interesting substitutions) or erasing a drawing that isn’t quite right.

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Because all the information was electronic, the students helped transfer their photos and text to a new word document rather than printing, cutting, and gluing the information into the journals I had printed. Examples of their work are below.

Student1BeachObs, Student2BeachObs

Planning and Customization:

Flexibility really is a key ingredient in the recipe of successful teaching. In my Week 11 Reflection blog post, I wrote, “This week was the first week of implementing my unit. Nothing went as planned, but everything went well. It is strange to write that sentence, but it is the truth. Working around weather, cancelled plans, and tired kids, plenty of learning still happened and lots of great connections were made.” From changing the order in which we implemented the days of the lessons to changing the way we recorded the data, this unit was all about customization based on the needs of not only the students, but the environment.

Student Learning:

Inquiry comes naturally to children. Occasionally it can get them into a sticky situation, but usually it leaves them with some answers and even more questions to  investigate. Providing them with the opportunities to use this natural inquiry is important, whether it is in the classroom setting or out in the real world. A large portion of my unit took place in the inquiry-rich environments of the beach and the Science Center. Seeing organisms in their natural environment (while not always possible) is an excellent way for kids to make connections to previous knowledge and to also make inferences about the organisms they were observing.

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When I was developing the unit, I knew that I wanted to provide a choice of performance tasks for the students. In my Week 12 – Collecting Evidence blog post, I wrote, “The performance task will be used as evidence to show levels of concept mastery. Each student has a choice of task, so the materials may or may not be comparable to each other, but I find that to be perfectly acceptable because even if they were the same types of tasks, I would want to use my rubric to score them. Due to after-school time constraints, my students will be finishing these for me this weekend!”

On Twitter, I wrote:

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Student 1 chose to write a poem for her performance task. She used ten organisms she had observed at the beach and Science Center, and then wrote about how they interacted with their habitat and with each other. She shows a clear understanding of the relationship between certain habitats and the organisms which occupy them. There is evidence of good observations, including the length of particular organisms and what types of attachments they use. She chose to write it out on paper, put her couplets in order after they were all written, then typed it in Word.

Student 2 wanted to make a song about the organisms he observed. We worked together to choose a song to modify (The Ants Go Marching – one of his current favorites), then he dictated the words while I typed them in. I just recently did a multiple intelligences assessment with him and discovered that he scored the highest in the musical category. If I had asked him to sit and write a paper, he would have rebelled, but he was overjoyed at the idea of making his own song about the beach. He shows evidence of learning in the organisms he chose to be included in the song, the way he describes their interactions with the environment, and his inclusion of personal experiences (the barnacles scraping his skin). Both performance tasks are below.

Student1PT, Student2PT

Finally, both student took the assessment (posted below) which had been given as the pretest. Having a classroom of two has its advantages, one of them being that I gave the test to the students orally and typed in the answers they gave me. I included the answers from the pretest in parenthesis for comparison purposes. In my Week 12 – Collecting Evidence blog post, I stated, “My last piece of evidence will be the post-test. I will use the same test that I gave as a pretest, and compare student understanding through time. I like to use the same assessments for pre and post-testing so that I have a clean comparison. I will ask all of the questions again, even though the students showed understanding of the concepts of a few of them on the pretest. I want to see if this knowledge is genuine, or if it was a “good guess” in the moment.”

Student 1 improved her test scores, listing all three things an animal needs to survive where she had only listed two previously. She also gave a more complete definition of intertidal, receive all points possible on the assessment.

Student 2 showed improvement in numerous areas. He was able to name three things an animal needs to survive instead of two which he had named on pretest. He provided an example of a habitat (although not for intertidal organisms). Where he had given and answer of, “I don’t know,” on the pretest, he was able to say that intertidal means between the high and low tides. He also received all points possible on the assessment, but showed greater gains overall (strictly speaking based purely on this assessment data).

 

Student1Posttest, Student2Posttest

Final Thoughts

I have been reading Rick Wormeli’s Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessing & Grading in the Differentiated Classroom, and I feel that he offers several strategies that would made this unit more successful, particularly in terms of determining the amount for growth Student 1. Because this student scored so high on the pretest, the posttest isn’t necessarily a valid indication of what she learned. I like the idea of tiered assessments and what they can bring to a classroom with a wide range of learners. Both students could have taken the middle level assessment, and then, if needed, Student 1 could have followed up with the more advanced questions. This would have helped me direct my teaching even more and given a better idea of her growth over time. If student 2 hadn’t scored as well as he did not the pretest, he could have taken the lower level assessment, which would have given me more direction on where to start my instruction with him. Even my classroom of two surprised me in many ways, from the knowledge that my kindergartner already possessed to the ability of the students to use new technology to make their work easier. And these are my own children.

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Week 12 Reflection

Photo courtesy of @DrewGarrisonSBN (Twitter.com – 8:24 PM – 13 Apr 2016)

This was Kobe Bryant breaking Twitter during our EDET 637 Week 12 session. It’s alright, Kobe, we’ll forgive you because, while we couldn’t have our Twitter session as planned, we did come up with a work-around, our questions got answered, and Lee got a new blender out of the deal!

Needless to say, this week I did not contribute to the learning of others as much as I had planned through the traditional venue of the twitter session, although I did post my questions and answers to all questions. I also went back through and added comments to several of the answers fellow classmates provided, although I feel that if this had happened in real time I might have been more thorough in my overall responses.

I did post comments on both Sarah K’s and Jeff’s blogs. This is the second week I have replied to their blog posts. There is something about seeing how the story ends, so to speak, that made me want to follow up with the results of their units. I love how Jeff incorporated technology so seamlessly into his unit and used scaffolding effectively to make it accessible to all of his students. Sarah is going to have students complete a self-assessment of the unit following the post test and I can’t wait to see what this reveals!

On Jeff’s blog, I wrote the following:

I love how you provide so many levels of scaffolding for the technology portions of your instruction. From demonstrating, to providing step-by-step instruction, to having the students use each other as a resource, students can gradually become more and more proficient at these skills until there comes a day when the scaffolding becomes unnecessary. Building in these opportunities for success, rather than frustration and failure, also allows for better classroom management as you are not having to attend to 20 raised hands at once and teaches students to become more independent in the learning process.

Creating effective learning teams is never an easy task, but it seems like you have done an excellent job of looking at all the variables and making adjustments as needed. Do you have any strategies for the student who is willing to let the other members of the group do all the work and then happily take credit for it (the happy copier)?

Finally, I really enjoy that you are allowing your students the opportunity to make revisions on their final project. Because you are working with them to help them understand where their misconceptions happened, they will most certainly gain a greater understanding of the concept and be able to carry that knowledge forward with them to the next mathematical task.

On Sarah’s blog, I wrote:

I love the idea of an end-of-unit self-assessment for the students. Because this is different from the norm, it should be interesting to see, from their perspective, whether they found the process to be beneficial in terms of acquiring knowledge. That ability to deeply self-reflect is one thing that I miss about teaching older students.

Good luck with the rest of your unit next week!

Week 12 – Collecting Evidence

Essential question: What evidence am I collecting for my final project – and for what purpose?

For my final project, I am collecting student work samples and teacher observations from throughout the unit to show the progression of understanding from the beginning to the end. My evidence will include pretests, student journal entries, observational notes, performance tasks with student reflections, and a post-test (same a pretest).

The first evidence I will be collecting is the introductory activity of my unit. Pretests helped me determine the readiness and prior knowledge of my students. I was able to adjust some on my activities based on the fact that they already had a firm understand of some of the material I was going to be presenting. Using the pretest information, I expanded my unit for my more advanced learner to further investigate the intertidal zone, and I was able to eliminate some of the pre-planned scaffolding that I had in place for my less advance learner.

The next evidence I will be collecting is student journal entries. These help document the different trips students took and, through the descriptions of their observation, define what the students have noticed about different organisms, both in physical appearance and the location in which they reside. I am looking for evidence of understanding through observation about the proximity of some organisms to others and the lack of some organisms in some of the micro-habitats.

I will use my observational notes following different class activities (integrating literature with questions related to local intertidal zones, organizing and adding to student journals, brainstorming activity about features of Magic Island Beach) to note which students shared ideas and added information for the group to use. I will document how the journals were used to expand upon knowledge of organisms and their environments. The literature activity showed some critical thinking skills that expanded upon knowledge acquired at the science center and the beach.

The performance task will be used as evidence to show levels of concept mastery. Each student has a choice of task, so the materials may or may not be comparable to each other, but I find that to be perfectly acceptable because even if they were the same types of tasks, I would want to use my rubric to score them. Due to after-school time constraints, my students will be finishing these for me this weekend!

My last piece of evidence will be the post-test. I will use the same test that I gave as a pretest, and compare student understanding through time. I like to use the same assessments for pre and post-testing so that I have a clean comparison. I will ask all of the questions again, even though the students showed understanding of the concepts of a few of them on the pretest. I want to see if this knowledge is genuine, or if it was a “good guess” in the moment.

I will use all the evidence to not only determine what concepts my students have mastery of, but also what I might change if I teach the unit again. Seeing what worked to help students establish good connections to the content and what could be replaced with something better is an important step in creating a unit that can stand the test of time.

Week 11 Reflection

This week was the first week of implementing my unit. Nothing went as planned, but everything went well. It is strange to write that sentence, but it is the truth. Working around weather, cancelled plans, and tired kids, plenty of learning still happened and lots of great connections were made.

This week I contributed to the learning of others by providing feedback on blog posts. On Sara L.’s, I wrote the following:

Sara, 
I often find the most difficult part of planning any unit is accurately judging how long activities are going to take. I tend to overplan, then find myself needing additional time to complete things. I agree though, it is never a bad thing when students take longer than expected because they are completely engaged in the learning process and asking probing questions.
Another thing I find challenging is catching students up when they have missed parts of the lesson, especially when many don’t have outside resources or strong study skills. Do you have any special strategies or techniques that you use to help make this less of a hindrance to the overall learning process?

Although we have been in classes together since last summer, I just recently met Jeff for the first time (in person) and taught this same group of students as a science sub, so I was very interested to see how his lesson went. I left the following feedback for him:

Jeff,

This is a great reflection of your unit so far. It is really nice to see how your front-loading of instruction and technology assistance helped students gain enough confidence to start working together with their teams as their main resource. I know you put this use of time in your challenges, but by providing them with the necessary tools, no matter if it took longer than you thought it might, you set them up for success rather than failure!

As a thought for future use, what if instead of showing the students an example of what you want, you use that last 10 to 15 minutes of the first day to actually create that example of what you are looking for? You could have it already completed in stages, and add the critical components such as graphs from Desmos. They could see the technology in action, understand what is expected of them, and maybe even use the rubric to evaluate your work.

Isn’t it amazing when kids create a graph and know something is wrong with it? Right there is the best evidence of understanding. They aren’t blindly trusting technology for an answer, but using it as a tool to test their thinking process. Things like this always make me smile!

Sarah K. also commented in her Week 11 blog post about using a suggestion I had provided during the previous week’s Twitter session. I had encouraged her to have students pick the gas relationship they understood the least and complete the lab that demonstrated that relationship. How awesome is that?

Week 11 – Implementing the Unit

Essential question: What are my challenges and successes in implementing my unit? 

I knew there would be challenges and successes in implementing my unit, even prior to starting it. I designed the unit to be used in a 3rd grade classroom, but as I am not currently a classroom teacher, I planned on using my own children and some of their friends as my students. Although I had made previous arrangements, my extra students canceled on me at the last minute, leaving me with a class size of two.

Pretest: My remaining students are in kindergarten and 3rd grade. I had them both take the pretest so I could determine their current levels of understanding and change up a few things in my unit if I needed to. I expected very limited understanding from the kindergartner, but both gave solid definitions for habitat and both gave excellent examples of animals that could live together and animals that could not with reasons why. Both answered that animals need food and shelter to survive, but they were a little shaky on more items. The 3rd grader knew exactly what the intertidal zone was, and the kindergarten student had no idea. This led me to rethink the items I wanted to stress and what I would need to do to support the younger student in his acquisition of intertidal knowledge.

Day 1: With a last-minute activity meeting for parents, and the limited hours of the science center, Day 4 and Day 1 activities needed to be switched. It was off to the beach after dinner, in the rain, for a lesson. The students engaged in the activity with slightly less enthusiasm than I had envisioned, but we did manage to hit both low tide and a couple lulls in the torrential rain. Both students used their tablets and my camera to take pictures, and the kindergarten student used the talk to text app to record his observations. The third grade student started writing her observations, but noticed how quickly her brother was recording data and moving through his list of organisms, so she started using it as well. After all the pictures and recording were completed, we all walked from the high tide line to the low tide line to demonstrate the concept of intertidal (between the tides) for the kindergartner. His eyes lit up in that “ah-ha” way, and then he said, “I guess inter means between, right?”, so I knew he got the idea. Things were wet, and I should have brought large Ziploc bags to contain the electronic equipment (does talk to text work through a plastic bag?), but the kids got the job done with a minimal amount of complaining and a fair amount of fun. I felt this part of the lesson was a bit rushed (it was bedtime, after all), but the necessary evidence was collected.

Day 2: We watched the video, (“What? A movie during dinner?”) and discussed whether we saw anything eating anything else while we were at the beach. I asked them about the location that different organisms were found and if they thought that might relate to what they ate. This brought about a great conversation about organisms that are anchored and how they have to be sure to anchor in a location with lots of food, but also someplace where they won’t become food themselves. Then I had the students transfer their data from the beach to a Word Document. My original plan called for paper/pencil type journals, but because both students were collecting data electronically, it felt more natural to create electronic journals. We were so past our bedtime when they finished up this part of the project!

Day 3: This evening, we read “What’s in the Tide Pool” and talked about what was similar and what was different about the tide pool in the book and tide pools we find around Sitka. My kids are pretty observant, even noting that some of the types of organisms change with the seasons. Then, there was a whiny discussion about why we were skipping Lemony Snicket’s Carnivorous Carnival and the Pokemon Kalos Region Handbook that evening. #bedtimeroutineoutthewindow #allinthenameofscience #bigtimemomfail  #classroommanagement101

This is where my unit stands so far. The science center is open tomorrow, and it is not a school day, so the original Day 1 lesson will take place then. I will likely try to complete at least one more lesson on Sunday, and possible complete both of them so the kids can start on their performance tasks and work on them throughout the week.

Things certainly haven’t gone as planned, but there is learning taking place. I can’t wait to see where next week takes us!

Week 10 Reflection

This week was my first week to host our class Twitter session, and as a host, I hope I contributed to the learning of my classmates by asking thoughtful and pertinent questions. My partner was Aleta, and let me say this publicly, she is a rock star! I feel that we worked really well as a team, coming up with many of the same questions to ask during the Twitter session, yet each adding our own personal touches. We were able to overcome some initial technical glitches at the very beginning of our session and generated some great responses from our classmates. It is very challenging to be the Twitter host and a learner at the same time, and I felt that this week I came away with less than I normally would from a class session, mainly because I was trying to keep things flowing as a facilitator.

Aleta provides a nice summary of the questions we asked and the references we used here on her blog.

I truly appreciated the feedback of my fellow students on my blog. Amy and Jeff both commented on my blog post this week. Amy asked a great question about my rubric and how it would assess the technical aspects of writing for the projects. This is something I hadn’t considered, but will look at further. Jeff asked, “Will the daily journal entries, discussions, and teacher observations be used as formative assessments to provide feedback to both teachers and students?” This is an excellent observation and points out a situation where I was picturing this happening in my brain, but failed to express it in my unit plan.

I commented on Larissa’s, Sarah’s, and Natalie’s blogs this week. I found all three of their units to be of excellent quality, well thought out, and of high interest for students.

On Larissa’s blog, I wrote:

First and foremost, those stylized food webs are AMAZING! I am so happy you found this resource and I am bookmarking it for my own future use.
Your unit has lots of wonderful opportunities for students to explore and master the concepts using a variety of modalities.
I might suggest that you make sure to have students label the flow of energy through the food chain (Stage 3 – #13) or food web using arrows to demonstrate this movement. While the stylized food webs do this in an abstract way, it is crucial that students understand in which direction the energy flows and how decomposers return some of it to be used by producers.
I cannot wait to see how those stylized food webs turn out!

On Sarah’s blog, I wrote:

This unit looks great (and like it would be super fun to do from a student perspective)! I like how you will use your pre-assessment information to create groups for brainstorming and lab work. I know that you are giving the students a choice of labs, but will you try to guide them to choose a variable relationship they are less familiar with, rather than choosing one that might be interesting but of which they already understand the relationship? I often have students choose the path of least resistance. I really like how you will regroup and have everyone share their findings, then do the teacher-led instruction. This preloading of concept awareness in the form of hands-on lab work can lead to much better understanding when you present the information in lecture form!

And on Natalie’s blog, I wrote:

I agree with Sarah. I wish I had taken government in your classroom! Both my high school and college American government classes were dry and boring, with no connection to anything that really mattered to me at the time. When we just memorize facts to recite them on a test, we likely won’t retain them for long. I love how you tie your unit to local issues, making the learning relevant for your students and creating buy-in. This will help your students remember the essential concepts you are teaching for years to come. You also provide many student choices, but with a good amount of scaffolding to support the learning of all. I have a feeling this unit is going to be amazing in practice. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

 

It was so great to read through all the different unit plans and see how very skilled this group is at creating high-quality lessons for our students!

As far as my own plan, I struggled a bit, wanted to fit in all the bells and whistles, but reminding myself that sometimes less is more. With the limited amount of time to complete the lessons in this unit, I didn’t want it to feel rushed. I think a lot of great science is lost on students when they are rushed from one activity to the next without time to really see things for what they are. I wanted to give them time at the beach and time at the science center to really explore and absorb the different things they were seeing.

My “class” will be small. I’ve recruited my own kids (third grade and kindergarten) plus at least two others of similar ages. I felt the younger kids would be great to test the talk to text app with because they are both emergent writers. I’m excited to see what they come up with!

Integrating Best Practices and Theory of Differentiated Instruction

Essential question: How does my unit plan integrate best practices and theory of differentiated instruction?

Please view my unit plan here: UbD_EDET637

Differentiation is supported in a variety of ways in my UbD unit plan. According to BBC Active (2010), differentiation in the classroom can fall under as many as seven categories. Of these seven, the four main areas that my lesson plan targets are task, grouping, resources, and assessment.

My lesson starts with a pretest to gauge student readiness and determine levels of prior knowledge. This paper and pencil assessment is low tech, but serves as a guideline for creating groups of mixed abilities when working on journals and allows me to help guide those students that are already at or close to mastery toward higher-level concepts regarding the particular topic. I had considered using clickers and a multiple choice type quiz for this assessment, but feel that open-ended questions will provide more authentic feedback for my purpose. The assessment will not be used for any type of grading, as this is just a formative look at student knowledge. Rick Wormeli (2006) says, “In a differentiated classroom, assessment guides practice. Instructional decisions are based not only on what we know about curriculum, but also on what we know about the specific students we serve” (p. 20). Robert Marzano (2006) concurs, stating, “Research supports the conclusion that formative classroom assessment is one of the most powerful tools a classroom teacher might use.” Additional formative assessments that will occur during this unit are teacher observations, discussion and reflection in small group and whole group settings, and journal entries.

Grouping students in a variety of ways throughout the unit was an important component of my unit to provide different learning experiences. As Carol Ann Tomlinson explains in an Education Week interview with Anthony Rebora (2008), “In a sense, the teacher is continually auditioning kids in different settings—and the students get to see how they can contribute in a variety of contexts.” I wanted to provide whole group experiences where the class could learn from sharing the ideas of the entire class. I also wanted to provide small group experiences so that students could work collaboratively with their classmates and reflect with a limited amount of outside input. Small groups remain the same for the unit to maintain consistency of focus on particular organisms. It should be noted that no “grades” will be given to the whole group. I agree with Wormeli (2006) who says, “Group grades are often a form of coercion used by teachers to compel students to work with members of the groups to learn the material, at least superficially. Since they are not accurate indicators of mastery on the part of any one student, and that’s what grades are suppose to be, they undermine the legitimate use of grades” (p 127). Finally, I wanted the performance task to be an individual activity although I did allow the exception of partners on one option.

Allowing a choice of tasks for the final assessment allows for differentiation in this unit as well. Students are able to choose a method of delivery which will provide them the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the content material in a way that is most comfortable for their individual needs.  Most of the tasks step beyond the paper/pencil assessment and invite students to create a usable product. Teach for America (2011) says:

Performance assessments are often termed “authentic” assessments because they ask students to perform tasks in a real-world-like context – for a specific purpose and audience under realistic constraints. Since they require students to actively apply knowledge and skills in an unprompted, novel situation, authentic assessments can reveal the highest possible level of student mastery.

A rubric helps students understand expectations as they work through their performance task. I chose a typical three-column rubric which shows students when they are approaching, have met, or have exceeded expectations. After reading Chapter 4 of Wormeli’s Fair Isn’t Always Equal, I considered a rubric which focused on the highest level of achievement written in detail, with relative degrees of accomplishment for the other levels. Wormeli writes, “When all that is provided to students is the detailed description of full mastery, they focus on those requirements – it’s the only vision they have. All of their efforts rally around those criteria and, as a result, they achieve more of it” (p 48).

The final area my unit plan targeted was resources. Assistive technology (AT) is defined in federal legislation as any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities (Seiler, 2007). I incorporated AT in several places in the unit to make sure that all students had access to learning opportunities. Instead of having students write all of their observations in their journals, the lesson provides the option of using talk to text technology. This option is open to all students, allowing those students who need the assistance to not feel singled out. To visually document the organisms they observe, students may wish to draw pictures using paper and pencil or use digital cameras to capture images. Providing this option allows for student choice, but it also gives students with reduced motor control the ability to document information accurately.

References:

Instructional Planning & Delivery. (2011). Teaching for America. Retrieved from http://teachingasleadership.org/sites/default/files/Related-Readings/IPD_Ch2_2011.pdf

Marzano, R. (2006). Classroom assessments & grading that work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom. (2010). BBC Active. Retrieved from http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/MethodsofDifferentiationintheClassroom.aspx

Rebora, A. (2008, September 10). Making a difference. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2008/09/10/01tomlinson.h02.html

Seiler, R. J. (2007, December). Assistive Technology for Individuals with Cognitive Impairments. Retrieved from http://www.idahoat.org/Portals/0/Documents/cognitive_impair.pdf

Wormeli, R. (2006). Fair isn’t always equal: Assessing & grading in the differentiated classroom. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.