In this continuing series, teachers working with students in the Connected Learning 1:1 program share how they use the tools to impact student learning.
Science is an amazing tool for understanding the immense complexity of the natural world. One of the most powerful lessons in science class is how to develop the skills to solve complex science problems. This process requires the integration of new ideas with old, the analysis of multiple data points and the synthesis of all this information into a clearly communicated explanations. These are real science skills that real scientists use at work every day. These are the skills that I hope to teach my students. In turn, my assessments also need to measure these skills.
Each of my students has a chromebook with them in class everyday and at home every evening. This gives them anytime, anywhere access to the world’s information. This fact makes memorizing the properties of the elements or parts of a cell far less important than understanding how and why chemical bonds form or how organelles work in concert to carry out cellular processes. By creating assessments that ask the how and why questions and giving my students access to the internet as a data resource to support the claims that they make, I can better assess the depth of their conceptual understanding.
The information I can gain from this type of assessment is invaluable. I know better what my classes need to work on in the areas of constructing arguments, choosing evidence and refuting counter-claims. I can see where their understanding of the big ideas in science is strong and where the connections between concepts are still unclear. The students get the experience of being scientists using data to solve problems. They come face to face to the no one right answer reality that is the scientific endeavor.
Being a scientist is a creative pursuit. Authentic, open internet assessment is one way to engage students in it.