Choose a topic (objective) from one of the strand units in the Primary Science Curriculum (DES, 1999) and describe how you would assess it in a way that ensures that the assessment is integrated seamlessly in teaching and learning science. Indicate what the focus of the assessment is in terms of the science concept AND skill(s).
The topic chosen must not be a task included in Hands-on Science. Indicate what the focus for the assessment is in terms of science concept and skills. In your answer refer to a) common prior conceptions (‘misconceptions’) children might hold within this strand unit and b) how this assessment approach could facilitate constructivist approaches to the teaching of science.
Please refer to at least three prescribed readings from both your assessment and curriculum science courses in your response (at least six references in all). Strand: Energy and Forces Strand Unit: Magnetism and Electricity Class: Second Class Learning Intention: The child will be enabled to purposefully play with magnets of different shapes and sizes and explore their effects on different materials (DES,1999).
The Teacher Guidelines in conjunction with the Primary Curriculum for Science promotes the use of a constructivist approach to the teaching and learning of science, (DES, 1999). A constructivist approach involves the construction of our own understandings based on the world in which we live in (Brooks, 1993) and our prior knowledge in a variety of areas. This essay will be based on a constructivist approach to teaching magnets in the primary science curriculum, aimed to eliminate any common misconceptions of the child and incorporate self- assessment as the method for assessment for the lesson.
The constructivist approach to teaching and learning allows children to take responsibility of their learning which can then make way for self-assessment. Lessons which incorporate self-assessment will see pupils ‘looking at their own work in a reflective way, and identify aspects of it that are good and that could be improved, and then set personal learning targets for themselves’ according to the NCCA’s (2007) Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum. This lesson will incorporate prediction, investigation, interpretation and communication as the children develop the uses of magnets of different shapes and sizes through ‘purposeful play’ (DES, 1999).
The learning intentions for this lesson will be shared using WALT and WILF in the introduction to the lesson. Children will be given their learning intentions to give them a goal or target to work towards in the course of the lesson. The children will develop their own concept maps, which will be based on any existing 1 Saoirse Geraghty Part B-Assessment 13270851 knowledge or misconceptions they may have with regard to magnets, eliciting prior knowledge from the children will give them the opportunity to focus themselves on the topic.
Concept maps will be used as interpreted by Mc Cloughlin’s (2000) ‘Conceptual Mapping Frameworks in Science Education: a reader for students of Science education’. The maps will portray each of the children’s knowledge based on the topic, magnets, to be revisited in the development of the lesson and in order for children to interpret their findings and learning outcomes from course of the lesson. The development of the lesson will see the investigation of common misconceptions and experimenting with some of the children’s prior knowledge based on their concept maps they have drawn up.
The children will be aware of their learning intentions from the introduction to the lesson and will need little direction which will lead to more focused learning. They will record on their concept maps any new findings they have made, and any prior misconceptions they may have had, and have come to the conclusion of can be recorded. The conclusion of the lesson will include a share session in a whole-class discussion to identify any misconceptions that may still exist and can be addressed, and also to allow children to peer-assess one another based on their findings on an informal basis.
To conclude the lesson I will use ‘Traffic Lights’, which will allow me to establish after the lesson how comfortable children are with the use of magnets of different shapes and sizes and the misconceptions involved with them. To begin the lesson I will use a range of formative methods of assessment (AfL) to elicit any existing knowledge children may have with regard to magnets. As mentioned above the children will develop their own concept maps or ‘cluster maps’ (McCloughlin, 2000) to illustrate their existing knowledge, regarding their own interpretation of the physical appearance of a magnet, uses of magnets, household items which may be magnets etc.
When the children have completed their maps, I will share learning intentions with the children using the WALT and WILF methods. I will place the learning intentions on the WALT board, in child friendly language, so children can refer back to them in the development of the lesson to ensure they are still on task to achieve the success criteria. Clark (2005) promotes the sharing of learning intentions with the children that allows them to know the ‘desired outcome’ and success criteria of the task.
In Barbara Collins and Michael O’Leary’s (2010) work on Integrating Assessment with Teaching and Learning in the Visual Arts: A Study in One Classroom seen sharing learning intentions lead to lower frustration levels among children who perceive themselves as not being strong’ in a particular curricular area. In my own experience and as also stated in the Collins and O’Leary (2010) study, children declared 2 Saoirse Geraghty Part B-Assessment 13270851 that knowledge of the success criteria on a particular topic helped them to get started quicker and also led to them having less questions based on the procedures they were to undertake in the task.
For the development of the lesson, I will explore the following three common misconceptions with second class students: ? All metals are attracted to magnets ?All silver coloured items are attracted to magnets ?The larger the magnet, the stronger it is (MathScience Innovation Centre, 2007) In this section, I will organise the children into small groups and provide them with a range of household objects (paperclips, cutlery, keys, coins etc. ) and magnets of different shapes and sizes to investigate and explore these misconceptions with them.
I will ask the children in their groups to predict possible outcomes of their explorations into the misconceptions, will all of these items stick to the magnets? Will all of the magnets pick up the bunch of keys? Etc. It is expected that children will make the prediction that all of these misconceptions are true, therefore predicting before investigating allows children to use their prior knowledge to predict and they can then explore their outcomes in ‘purposeful play’ throughout the development of this lesson and then discuss their findings with their peers in the conclusion of the lesson.
When they have made some predictions will write some of them on the board to be revisited after the children have worked with the objects and magnets. The children will be given sufficient time to investigate the common misconceptions and strength of the magnets using different sized magnets across the variety of objects for experimentation. I will then ensue a metacognitive approach and have the children record on their concept maps anything new they have discovered or uncovered in their investigations. By recording their findings the children are documenting what they have learned by means of self-assessment.
Looking at what they knew from the outset, and recording what more they have learned, or what misconceptions they may have had have they cleared up. To conclude the lesson, I will ask the class to come together and undergo a whole class discussion based on their findings in this investigation of misconceptions of magnets. I will use AfL strategies of questioning in this discussion with the children to indicate where their new knowledge may be of use to them outside of the class, ie.
Where would you use a magnet outside of class? , can you get any bigger magnets than the ones we have in class 3 Saoirse Geraghty Part B-Assessment 13270851 today? Etc. The NCCA assessment guidelines (2007) invite children to probe and prompt children in their open ended questioning, ie. ‘’I wonder if everyone in this class has the same things on their maps’’, ‘’I wonder is there anything we could learn from listening to one each other’s findings’’.
Preceding this, the children will discuss with their class mates any misconceptions they may still have, that they may be able to clear up, or perhaps something they did not uncover in their findings. This form of peer-assessment allows for informal learning, and shows children that they can assist one another, and they do not always have to come to the same conclusions in their topics to have the correct answer. When children have been given fair time to discuss and analyse their findings with their peers I will close the lesson by asking them to give me some feedback to ‘help me to teach them’ by using the traffic light method of assessment.
This will be used to get an idea of any misunderstandings or confusion that may still exist among the children, and therefore can be addressed before the end of the lesson. In the ‘Traffic Light’ method of summative assessment: ?G (green light –I understand), ?A (amber light – A little unsure), ?R (red light – I don’t understand). Methods of both formative (AfL) and summative (AoL) assessment have been used strategically in the Primary Science Curriculum.
These methods were introduced harmoniously with the lesson on magnetism, the methods of self-assessment allowed the teacher to be the facilitator of resources and learning, but the children undertook the task independently, the development of constructivism in the classroom would see that ‘the locus of teaching and learning does not lie in the teacher but rather the student’ (Mc Cloughlin, 2010). This was explored in this lesson, and I would use these methods of assessment in the classroom, and I think they would have a positive effect on the children’s learning.
References 4 Saoirse Geraghty Part B-Assessment 13270851 Clarke, Shirley,(2005). Targeting assessment in the primary classroom: Strategies for planning, assessment, pupil feedback and target settin. , London. Collins, B. & O’Leary, M. (2010). Integrating assessment with teaching and learning in the visual arts: A study in one classroom. Oideas 52, pp. 53-61. Department of Education and Skills, (1999). Primary School Science Curriculum. Dublin: NCCA Department of Education and Skills (1999). Primary School Science Curriculum: Teacher Guidelines.
Dublin: NCCA MathScience Innovation Centre, (2007). Floating above the Rest. Mc Cloughlin, Thomas, (2000). Conceptual mapping frameworks in Science education: A reader for students of Science Education. Dublin. NCCA (2007). Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum. Guidelines for Schools. Dublin: NCCA.
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