Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Formative Assessments at work...

Don't forget to assess as you go....
Yesterday, we did a ramp experiment where we learned that speed is determined by time and distance of movement.  Our investigation today, was very similar with a few changes.

I started off by reviewing what we had learned so far.  I wanted to know if they had gotten the concepts I had taught yet...
  • Force - push/pull, gravity
  • Motion - movement, measured by speed (distance and time) and described by changes in position (directions: up, down, forward, back)
  • Friction - caused by two objects rubbing against each other, some surfaces slow objects down (rough, bumpy) others speed it up (smooth or oiled)
So I asked the kids to do a 3, 2, 1

3 things you know about Motion
2 things you know about Force
1 thing you know about Friction

The next step is to take the samples and sort them.  I mark who got it according to the criteria I had already set, and then am able to find mistakes and misunderstanding.  For example, one of my students wrote that force was the same as speed.  Hmmmm...not so much!  Another thing I noticed, when I took a sampling as a pre-assessment not many kids had mentioned a pull as a force.  This time they all did.  Phew!

Tomorrow - pictures from the friction activity...and a lesson plan as well.


  1. Would you be willing to send me your scope and sequence for your force and motion unit? What order you teach the concepts in??

  2. Hi! I love your blog! Just a comment about friction from the box above... Friction does not speed things up, it only slows things down. Some surfaces slow things down less than others but even the smoothest looking surface slows down an object in motion. You can add something to a surface to reduce the friction (like oil or water between rubbing surfaces) but you will still have friction.

  3. Your statement on Friction is inherently wrong. You stated that "some surfaces slow things down and others speed things up." and I wanted to bring that to your attention. You might have wanted to say that "some surfaces slow things down a lot and others don't slow things down very much at all." This was brought to my attention by a colleague who had a question about friction after reading your blog. Wording is very important as you well know, and small misstatements can lead to a great deal of confusion or even a strongly held misconception.

    I do really like your blog and it has helped many teachers with ideas and background. I just wanted to point out a small but important distinction. Thanks for helping make teachers and teaching better.