By: Kristy Vincent, Senior Manager, Partner Success
A part of getting to know new students is determining what they already understand about the content, standards, and curriculum you teach. An important part of planning how to utilize Discovery Education’s Science Techbook in your classroom is determining what students already know and how to best support them in learning everything else.
Pre-assessing student knowledge offers many benefits in planning lessons, regardless of the format those lessons may take. By giving students pre-assessments, we are able to determine what content students may have already mastered. Many curriculums spiral and students may have retained all that they learned about a concept the previous year and may in fact have progressed into the current year’s standards. This is true of all the standards and learning experiences students will interact with over the course of the year, not just during back-to-school.
Giving student pre-assessments far enough in advance of when you are ready to teach the content provides you with enough time to analyze the data, administer additional assessments, have conversations with students, and plan lessons that will help students connect what they already understand with what they will learn. Your lesson cycles may vary throughout the year, but ensuring you have the time to consider your data and act on is crucial in effectively utilizing pre-assessments.
Another benefit of pre-assessing student knowledge comes from understanding how well students comprehend a concept and where misconceptions may exist. Is it a lack of foundational knowledge? Misunderstanding a process? Careless errors? Pre-assessment data can provide insight beyond mastery by helping educators identify if a question or problem’s structure has an impact on students. A student may solve fifty questions related to a concept correctly if they are all constructed the same way, but changing how a question is presented may reveal the lack of a deeper understanding. This can provide ideas on how to construct lessons.
A little-considered benefit of pre-assessing students two or more weeks in advance of instruction is that it provides students with a preview of the content. Students may develop their own questions, ask you or classmates questions, and develop their own goals for learning. Students should always be provided the opportunity to discuss their assessments after the fact, as it helps them become aware of their own learning. Feedback and student analysis are important goals and the relative “safety” of a pre-assessment allows students to hone these skills without any concern over grades.
Pre-assessing student knowledge can be accomplished several ways using Science Techbook. One easy way is by utilizing the Unit Assessments, which are available for grades 3-12. Each Science Techbook Unit contains a Unit Assessment that includes items from each of the concepts that make up the unit. This assessment can be assigned to students to take during computer lab time or during station rotations. Options for students to view their results and additional resources can be offered, and student results can be accessed through Assignment Manager. For K-2 students, an age-appropriate Primary Assessment is available for each concept, which can either be assigned to students or printed out for pencil/paper use. If assigned to students, results can be viewed from My Dashboard.