On August 30, 2017 I participated in two Prioritized Learning staff development sessions: one for for secondary math and one for secondary science. The instructional strategies introduced in the sessions were used with the intent of engaging all of the participants in discussions surrounding formative assessments in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) instruction. The deep discussions fostered through the intentional use of peer grouping got me thinking about how the professionals in S.T.E.M. related careers interact with each other.
The power of communication and collaboration in S.T.E.M. careers cannot be overstated as almost all S.T.E.M. professionals advance understanding of the world through Social interaction with Teams to better Explain our Material world. (Did I really just create another acronym?) Here is another one to help to make the point for using interactive formative assessments in S.T.E.M. classes. You can A.D.D. clarity to your formal assessment of student understanding by giving the students in the class opportunities to Articulate his/her understanding/misunderstanding through Discourse and Discussion. (Oops! I did it again.)
Many of the examples below come from ideas I gathered at the two Prioritized Learning sessions I attended yesterday.
(Resources for all of the strategies listed can be found on our C & I website under the ‘Resources’ tab then by clicking on ‘Materials from Past C&I Professional Development Sessions.’)
Using Graphic Organizer Formatives (like K-W-L) in S.T.E.M. Courses
Graphic organizer formatives are an easy way to formatively assess student learning as they can be used as exit tickets after the lesson. The K-W-L graphic organizer. (Okay…I promise no additional acronyms.) is really handy for teachers as they can quickly assess what students Know, What they want to learn, and finally what they Learned from a reading, a laboratory activity, or a rich mathematical task. A teacher can quickly assess the prior knowledge of students before the activity and use the K-W-L as an exit slip to formatively assess learning after the lesson.
Additionally, there are a variety of graphic organizers that you can modify to suit the needs of your S.T.E.M lesson. Find some great ones by searching for "Graphic Organizers" on the website Read Write Think.
Group Discussion Formatives (like Save the Last Word for Me ) in S.T.E.M. Courses
Group discussion formatives foster cognitive discourse by giving students time to process written and video information. S.T.E.M. teachers can also use discussion formats to help students think about and discuss the rich tasks and laboratory activities used. Give the students a chance to individually think about something they have read, a problem they have solved, or a lab they have completed. For instance, the Save the Last Word for Me discussion format (shown below) can easily be used for the questions that you have already created in your lab activity or other rich task.
One possible way to formatively assess with this strategy is to have the teacher collect/read the group answers to the questions posed. This process is effective when using rich open ended questions. As an added benefit, the teacher assessment time is reduced so s/he can comment on group thinking and give students the constructive feedback they need to advance their learning.
A possible process to follow would be (modified from above):
Student Communication Formatives (such as Think, Pair, Share and SUPU/PUPU) in S.T.E.M. Courses
The Prioritized Learning Session included many ideas for mixing up student groups to encourage and foster discussion and discourse. The grouping placements used in this session included: Compass Collaborative; Think, Pair, Share; and SUPU/PUPU—or ‘Stand-Up, Pair-Up’ and ‘Pair-Up, Pair-Up’. (I know, I used another acronym, but I couldn't help myself because it is kind of funny.) As stated above, S.T.E.M. professionals need to be able to communicate with their peers and using mixed-up groupings allows teachers to formatively assess each student's ability to collaborate and communicate effectively.
Whether using the first or second acronym for S.T.E.M. the instructional strategies used in the Prioritized Learning sessions were intended to give teachers additional tools to formatively assess and foster student learning through discourse. When we fail to have our students A.D.D. in S.T.E.M classes, we S.U.B.tract from their learning. (In case you are wondering: Subdue, Undermine, and Burden them to learn individually. Sorry but, I just had to end with an acronym.)
This post brought to you by Dan Devine, Secondary Implementation Associate
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