Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Best of Both Worlds

I had the privilege of joining a sixth grade science class last week and observed a lesson that beautifully and seamless integrated technological tools for assessment and hands on learning in the lab.  Posted on the front easel was a list of the essential questions to frame the volume unit.  The overview provided a roadmap of how the unit progressed from developing skills to calculate area, then volume, to the day's objective of using displacement to calculate the volume of irregular solids.  After a focus lesson to preview the lab, students took out their chromebooks and logged into the Learning Management System (LMS),  itslearning, where they completed two quick formative assessments entitled “Metric Equivalents - Take 2" and "Volume Check-In." The assessment tool provided students with instantaneous feedback about their skills and helped the teacher identify who needed extra help.  The teacher circulated to confer with students individually, providing extra re-teaching where necessary, while those who were ready jumped into applying the concepts through a hands-on lab.  There they carefully read graduated cylinders, drew sketches of their observations and completed calculations of volume in a variety of situations - including measuring with metric rulers to using displacement of various metallic weights. 

I loved listening to students prompt each other to carefully lower the weight into the water-filled graduated cylinder to prevent the string from factoring into the displacement.  Our sixth grade scientists meticulously documented their findings and drew conclusions about relationships such as displacement of 50 gram weight vs. 100 gram weights.  The online assessment tools and hands on lab certainly married the best of both worlds for our sixth graders.