Let’s look at beginning plans for an outcome. As all my lovely and loyal readers know, I teach a 10th grade science course to ELLs in Asia. I started this job with just a textbook and a passion for the subjects, but lacking the skills needed to really make the course effective for my students. In my first year, I had mixed results. Now, I expect only a slight improvement over the last year. Things have to change, and there’s a way. It’s called backwards design.
I need to plan for the outcomes before all else. Standards set by governments are often a good place to look. Since my primary roll is to prepare ELLs for U.S. universities, I’ve found that I really like the Common Core English Language Arts Standards for 9th and 10th grade science. They provide a concise set of outcomes I can aim my students toward.
Let’s plan around the following CC standard:
Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.
The proficiencies which I would like to see my students meet:
Translate visual information into words
Translate words and data into visual information
I’ve added “and data” as my own addition to the standard
Translate words into mathematical syntax
Translate mathematical syntax into words
Be able to plan for the type of visual display they should use
I’ve added this since I know students often have difficulty with this. I don’t expect them to be Ben Fry, but I expect them not to use a pie chart to graph trajectory.
Assignments and Assessments:
Graphing their trip to school: Assignment / Formative Assessment
Students could complete many types of graphs related to their trip to school or home. Students need to collect data about their speed, time, and direction on any leg or stop on the journey. The students can then use that data to create a map, displacement graph, speed & time graph, and velocity & time graph.
Reading scientific articles: Assignment / Formative Assessment
Many scientific articles contain graphs and data. Being about to understand these is vital. Have students summarize these is helpful as well checking in with them verbally. Here’s a great resource for articles I’ve been using. Most articles won’t meet this standard. Some times it’s good to provides parts of or the whole primary source of the article so the student can work with the data.
Introduction to the scientific process: Assignment / Formative Assessment
This is an assignment I’ve been using to introduce the scientific process. Students come up with measurable hypothesises about about some correlation and running speed of their peers and some other attribute. For example, many students guess height or leg length will have positive correlations with running speed. They can then test the one lap running speeds of many students. It’s important that you only take volunteers for this, you don’t want to embarrass any students by forcing them all to run. Once the data is collected, the student can graph and explain the data in light of their hypothesis.
Weekly tests: Summative Assessment
I like to have weekly tests in my classes. For student who have come out of a test heavy system and now struggle with a sense of urgency in an assignment based system, I’ve found that weekly testing gives a sense of urgency. This could act as either a formative of summative assessment but is primarily summative. In any case, every test should have some form of assessment for this standard since there are many ways of displaying data visually.
English Language Arts Standards » Science & Technical Subjects » Grade 9-10 » 7. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RST/9-10/7/
ScienceNews for Students. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from https://student.societyforscience.org/sciencenews-students