Design an Adjustable-Assignment Model (Not using money)
Model should include:
C. Pre-assessment tool to determine student's knowledge
d. What do they know at the beginning of the study?
e. What do they need to learn next?
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For the relevant standard, please consult your state's published standards for biology.
Content: This lesson evaluates students' "detective skills", and would be suitable to use as a segueway into a lesson on evolution. Connections can be made to argumentative writing, public speaking, critical thinking and data analysis. This lesson is intended for 9th graders; at this level, students should be able to evaluate scientific data, relate it to a hypothesis, and formulate a thesis statement/argument that supports or rejects the hypothesis.
Pre-Assessment Tool: Present three hoaxes/conspiracy theories as objectively as possible. For each, write a short paragraph that details as much information as the students can reasonably synthesize. These can be real conspiracy theories, such as NASA attempting to cover up the fact that the moon landings were hoaxes, or fanciful ones such as the "Bat Boy" tabloid stories from the 90s.
For each story, ask students to individually evaluate the story and form a response according to these criteria:
Do you agree or disagree with these claims?
What information supports your opinion?
What information would change your mind?
What could you do to find out more?
After students write their individual responses, have them share with each other. Then, write a final statement:
After discussing with other students, did your opinion change? Why or why not?
What Do Students Know At the Beginning:
If we're splitting students into 3 categories,
BELOW LEVEL: These students will probably be better at articulating their opinions verbally. Their arguments may lack sound reasoning, miss important data, or they may have simply written nothing. They have difficulty seeing the relationship between the concept, the data, and the argument. However, they probably recognize the conclusions that can be drawn from smaller, simpler relationships if the big picture eludes them.
AT LEVEL: These students can form a coherent argument, but it may lack conviction, completion or insight. They see a "path" through the data that leads to a conclusion, but their own voice or interests may be subsumed by a feeling of rote connect-the-dots writing and reasoning.
ABOVE LEVEL: These students write coherent, complete arguments that make use of the available data, make creative insights, and acknowledge gaps in data or reasoning. These students may take more time to articulate their ideas, and may not be able to explain why. For these students, breaking apart and analyzing their reasoning process should be the focus of further work.
What Do They Need to Learn Next?
BELOW LEVEL: These students need to practice basic reading and reasoning, making sound arguments, and finding reasonable bounds for an argument. They may also benefit from being put in positions of leadership: have them articulate an argument for a class example.
AT LEVEL: These students need practice with expressing their own opinions and gathering as much data as possible to articulate it. They should have ample opportunities to construct detailed, complex arguments from a variety of data.
ABOVE LEVEL: These students will do best to gain a deeper understanding of their own working process. They need to break apart their own faculties, perhaps categorizing them in reflection of the scientific method. They may also do some research into rhetoric and argumentative presentation, categorizing why one type of argument makes a stronger case than another for a given audience.
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