Session 3 at a glance

In this 3 hour session the overarching goals are to strengthen the ability to plan for learning about students’ chemical thinking using formative assessments that elicit students’ ideas, particularly focusing on the nature of questions. This session also offers a brief introduction to the NGSS core expectations.  The emphasis will be on increasing participants’ ability to notice how students use chemistry knowledge to make sense of problems that chemistry allows us to address. Participants put on a “student hat” to use four formative assessments to consider the accessibility of each prompt and what specifically the formative assessment would reveal about students’ chemical thinking. Participants are introduced to a quadrant continuum graphic organizer and asked to place each of the four formative assessments on the continuum. The quadrants are labeled revealing/accessible, not revealing/accessible, revealing/not accessible, not revealing/not accessible. After reviewing the formative assessment as students, participants apply their ideas and reasoning for placing the four formative assessments in the quadrants. Participants apply chemical ideas through the chemical thinking questions and consider various purposes for using a specific type of formative assessment in a particular learning situation. There is also time for participants to offer specific changes to the four formative assessments to modify them to be either more accessible and/or more revealing. 

Session objectives:

In this session, teachers will:

  • Provide an overview of the NGSS Science Standards and expectations
  • Examine the design and purpose of formative assessments
  • Uncover  elements that make questions both accessible and revealing of students chemical thinking
  • Deepen their understanding of the varied purposes for a specific design of a formative assessment

Participant agenda:

  • Presentation: Overview of NGSS & expectations
  • Interactive in Student Hat: Review four formative assessments & place in quadrant continuum
  • Discussion: Purpose & design of formative assessments
  • Small group work: Review additional  formative assessments and practice applying to specific quadrants
  • Exit Ticket & Homework: Reflect on feedback from a partner and revise your formative assessment for next time


Full Download (zipped folder)

30 minute video of an ACCT team member facilitating of the quadrant activity 

Quadrant activity

Rob Huie, an ACCT facilitator, leads a teacher workshop through the quadrant activity.


ACCT Program Components focused on in this session

***Although teachers will discuss chemistry content as part of the FAs, this session does not emphasize any of the specific strands of the Chemical Thinking Model.***


***This session looks closely at the purpose and design of formative assessments.***


Teacher Dilemmas: Pedagogical teacher dilemmas


Tips for the facilitator

Begin with a connecting activity/ice breaker, such as a snowball activity
To carry out a snowball activity, post the following question and directions :

  • How does your instruction & assessments reflect the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?
  • Jot down your ideas on a piece of paper
  • Crumple up the paper into a “snowball”
  • Circle up
  • Throw your snowball across the room
  • Grab a snowball from the floor (not your own)
  • Share what is written on the paper