Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Workshop 6

Tallying the Final Score

About the Workshop

At the end of a lesson or the culmination of a unit, how do you assess what your students have learned? As teaching methods change to take into account student ideas, assessment techniques need to change, too. Many teachers are now moving away from the traditional test, and towards alternative forms of assessment. In this workshop, we'll examine ways to assess the progression of students' thinking and understanding.

The Great Bean Bag Adventure

After investigating the effects of different liquids on seed sprouting, we turned to temperature. In our fourth experiment, we explored the effect of heat and cold on seed growth.

What we used:

4 plastic baggies
8 paper towels
12 lima beans (soaked overnight)
heating pad
dark drawer, cupboard, or closet

What we did:
Folded and placed two paper towels in each baggie. Added water to each baggie to moisten the towels. Labeled and prepared the baggies as follows:

  1. Seed + room temperature (control)
  2. Seed + heating pad
  3. Seed + refrigerator
  4. Seed + freezer
  1. 3 beans; placed in the dark*
  2. 3 beans; placed on heating pad in the dark*
  3. 3 beans; placed in refrigerator
  4. 3 beans; placed in freezer

*Because the beans in the closed refrigerator and freezer were in the dark, the beans in the other conditions needed to be kept in the dark.

Getting Ready (15 min. each)

  1. Divide into groups according to the Try This! activity that you chose for your homework assignment. Within your group, share your lists of content goals for the activity. Then, work together to generate a group list of process goals.
  2. Individually, write about the following (in your journal, if you have one): How have your techniques for assessing student performance and understanding changed over your teaching career? What might have contributed to those changes?

Site Conversation 1 (5 min.)

As a group, brainstorm a list of ways that you can support students in making connections. Discuss how you can know that students have actually made these connections.

Site Conversation 2 (5 min.)

Tom suggests that the teacher in the clip (Steven Levy) could have stopped halfway through the pencil box activity to have groups briefly share their methods. How might this have affected the outcome of the lesson?

Going Further (15 min. each)

  1. Using the lists of content and process goals that you discussed with your small group before the broadcast, work again with your group to design a rubric for the activity.
  2. Take a minute to recall the topics we've covered in the workshops thus far. Does the rubric your group designed account for all these parts of a lesson—from the earliest stage of student thinking and questioning, to building investigations, to thinking critically about results? If not, how can you adjust your rubric to allow for these stages of student thinking and problem solving?

Homework for Workshop 7

What was the best field trip you've ever taken with your students? What was the worst? Why? Who was the best classroom visitor you've ever had? The worst? Why? Come to Workshop 7 prepared to share these positive and negative experiences.


The Great Room Cover-up!

Suggested Grade Level: 4-5

Students build a miniature room out of a shoe box, and then calculate how much wallpaper is needed to wallpaper the interior of the room.

What you need

For each group of 4 students:
Shoe box (ask students to bring in shoe boxes, or get them from a local shoe store)
Adding machine paper
Construction paper
Masking tape

What to do

  1. Provide each group with a shoe box to represent their miniature room.
  2. Have students measure and cut out a door and three windows from construction paper. Provide students with the dimensions for each; the width of the door and windows should be the same width as the adding machine paper. Students should then paste the door and windows to the interior sides (walls) of the shoe box (miniature room).
  3. Explain to students that the next step is to cover the inside of the room with wallpaper, and they will use adding machine paper as wallpaper. Explain that they need to determine how many centimeters of adding machine paper they need to EXACTLY cover the inside of the room.
  4. Use the following types of questions to help students design a method for determining how much paper they will need:
    • What is the width of the paper?
  • What is the width of a wall in the room?
  • How many strips of paper do you need to cover the width of the wall?
  • How much should you subtract for the door and windows.
  • What should you do with any wall paper that overlaps around a corner?
  1. After the students have determined how much wallpaper they need, allow them to test their results by attaching the wallpaper to the walls.

What next

Designate a cost for the wallpaper per square centimeter, and have students calculate the cost of wallpapering their miniature rooms.

For younger students

Rather than working with a 3-dimensional shoe box, younger students can do a similar activity on a 2-dimensional surface. In preparation for this activity, cut out a large number of 5cm x 5cm pieces of colored paper. Provide each student with a sheet of centimeter graph paper to represent the wall of a room. Have students draw a window (any size, anywhere) on their walls. Then have students calculate how many 5cm x 5 cm squares of wallpaper they will need to paper the wall without covering the window. Students can paste the squares to their paper, and see how close they came!

One connection to the Standards

Standard 1: Mathematics as Problem Solving

In grades K-4, the study of mathematics should emphasize problem solving so that students can--

  • use problem-solving approaches to investigate and understand mathematical content;
  • formulate problems from everyday and mathematical situations;
  • develop and apply strategies to solve a wide variety of problems;
  • verify and interpret results with respect to the original problem;
  • acquire confidence in using mathematics meaningfully.

"A major goal of problem-solving instruction is to enable children to develop an apply strategies to solve problems. Strategies include using manipulative materials, using trail and error, making an organized list or table, drawing a diagram, looking for pattern, and acting out a problem."

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, (NCTM). 1989. Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (pg. 24)


Series Overview
Workshop Synopses
About the Contributors
Workshop Components
More Workshop Components
Helpful Hints for Successful Site Investigations
The Great Bean Bag Adventure
Invitation to Interact
Featured Teachers:
–  Classroom Clips
–  Conversations
Workshop 1
Workshop 2
Workshop 3
Workshop 4
Workshop 5
Workshop 6
Workshop 7
Workshop 8
Suggested Teaching Resources


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