Helping students develop abstract understanding is a universal goal. This article describes an activity that involves students developing and then solving novel quantitative chemistry problems following a MadLibsTM style framework.
Formative assessment questions provide a useful lens into students' minds regarding what they are thinking about chemistry. By ascertaining what students are thinking, teachers can make decisions regarding what to do with what they learn. The members of ACCT (Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking) presented a ChemEd X Talk on the topic on May 26th. You can watch the edited recording of this Talk and find more resources here.
In order to teach chemistry effectively, we must ascertain what our students are thinking about chemistry and make a decision regarding what to do with what we learn. Formative assessment questions provide a useful lens into students' minds regarding what they are thinking about chemistry. Let us consider then, how categorizing formative assessment questions could help us plan out our classes more deliberately, in order to better design purposeful written formative assessments that align with our curricular goals.
The session begins by asking participants to discuss teaching dilemmas and identify those that have come up for them at their school or in their instruction. Participants focus on examining and commenting on their videos, specifically with regard to eliciting and advancing moves. They then learn about the advantages and purposes for taking a dialogic or an authoritative stance when probing students’ chemical thinking. Time is set aside to support teachers with adjusting or modifying their final formative assessment and receiving feedback from their peers before they give the FA to their students.
The goal for session 8 is to focus on the formative assessment enactment model. Teachers revisit the formative assessment enactment model and reflect upon its versatility and value for classroom use. This session uses videos of student discourse to help participants grapple with the critical aspects of the Formative Assessment Enactment Model. Participants explore a spectrum of teacher decision-making in the moment with regard to questioning students. Participants examine and analyze the following: eliciting moves; how to narrow or open up student responses; advancing moves; and whether to use directing or responding questions.
Session 7 returns to cognitive interviewing as a formative assessment strategy and focuses on noticing and interpreting student thinking during the interview process. The session begins with participants examining their cognitive interviews with a partner. They are asked to notice the chemistry content that the students are grappling with and the connections to the chemical thinking framework. The focus is to analyze teacher questions to consider if they are eliciting ideas or advancing students' thinking toward a correct answer. During this session participants consider three ways that students typically frame a discussion with a teacher -- as inquiry, oral examination, or expert interview. Participants practice identifying which frame a student is assuming, to consider the way asking a question could influence how a student responds. Discussion leads to revisiting the teaching dilemmas (conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political) that come up when employing formative assessments that aim to strengthen students’ chemical thinking.
Session 6 focuses on cognitive interviewing as a formative assessment strategy that is conducted between a teacher and one student to elicit students’ thinking. The teacher interviews one student at a time with a set of probing questions that uncovers conceptual understanding. Key elements to consider in developing and using cognitive interviewing with a formative assessment are: the questions are open ended, you are not assessing whether the student answers are right or wrong, it is not a time to correct student thinking (it is a time for noticing, not for teaching) and provides an opportunity to listen to students’ thinking to collect data. Teachers will have time during the session to practice thinking like a student.
This 3 hour session continues to build a collaborative learning community and deepen understanding of students’ chemical thinking by comparing different teaching moves and how these moves promote the development of sense-making with chemistry concepts. The session begins with teachers reviewing classroom videos that were submitted for homework from a past ACCT cohort. Teachers bring three copies of de-identified student work samples from a recent formative assessment. Using a looking at student work protocol small groups of teachers look for evidence of chemical thinking and note what ideas are revealed and generated in the student’s written work. The small group discussions align with the overarching goal of increasing capacity for interpreting the assumptions about chemistry underlying student ideas based on written work samples that are reviewed.
The 3 hour session includes time for teachers to share their experiences, engage with student work and explore the formative assessment cycle. The session encourages teachers to deepen their understanding of the formative assessment cycle by looking at student work and reviewing videos looking for eliciting moves. Teachers will work collaboratively to notice and interpret student thinking and discuss the similarities and differences between student responses and our interpretations of them. Time will be spent introducing the teacher dilemma program component and examining one to discuss possible strategies to address this challenge. There will also be time at the end of the session to modify/revise their formative assessment to make ready to give to students.
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.