As a new year begins so do the questions. Some of my colleagues at school are using the Discovery site for the first time. Of course most of them know what assessments are but some have asked me; What are “Discovery Assessments”?
When I first heard about “Discovery Assessments”, I was bit puzzled. Assessment meant tests, quizzes and grades, or more specifically “numbers and letters”. Paper multiple choice questions or essay questions. But the assessments and assignments that you can create on the Discovery website are bit different or more specifically they can be used differently. AND they are easy to use! Something that busy teachers love. Each is created differently and can be used at different times. So, their unique in their own way. Writing prompts, Science Assessments, Quizzes and Assignments are the list of choices you can access on the website (under my builder tools).
The key is how do we use them? I think each of us uses these tools in different ways that maybe others can benefit from. For example, when I start a new topic, I will sometimes have students complete a science assessment on Discovery to find out students prior knowledge on a topic. I’m using it as a formative assessment. After students complete a unit, I will have them take another assessment and compare the results. This gives me an idea of how well the students are understanding the material. If I find the results are not good, I will go back over the information that students are still confused about or take a step back and review certain concepts students seem to need help with. Is this different from what other teachers do? I doubt it, but this is something I have found that works in my classroom. Which is the key to using the Discovery tools, what works in your classroom? You need to find that out. There are some great ideas out there. Here is another example, I know a teacher who uses the assessments to help build her review for the end of a unit. She will create an assessment or assignment for her students to do during the unit. After they complete the assignments, she takes all the questions they answered incorrectly and uses them with Smart Response Clickers as a review. Basically, she integrates Discovery website with Smart Response technology. Different, not sure, but for her classes effective.
The unique feature about the tools available on Discovery is that they have visual aids to go along with the assessments and assignments you create. Actually I think this is one of the perks of using the Discovery builder tools. We all know that we can have different learners in our class and the need to differentiate is becoming a norm in some of our classes. By associating visual aids with the assessments, students, from what I have seen, have a tendency to understand the material better.
Most of the assessments I use are the Science Assessments. One of the reasons I use these more often is because at the end they actually give students recommendations for further study on the questions they answered incorrectly. It also gives a graph of the how the class did as a whole (teachers can access all these tools in the Science Assessment area of Discovery).
These stats are important to me for current and future use. I can revisit the problems students are having with the information and I can improve the lesson for the next time. Another assessment that is a big help for me is the writing prompt. Here I can set up a formative assessment for students to fill out when they complete an assignment for a topic. I get a good deal of my formative assessments from the book by Page Keeley “Science: Formative Assessment”, its given me some awesome ideas.
I don’t think I’ve written about anything different or unique here. But I do think that if I have colleagues asking me questions about the Discovery builder tools, then others must be getting the same questions. Maybe this will help them understand it a bit more.
So how do you use the Discovery Builder tools? I think everyone has their own way of using these wonderful tools and we can give each other great ideas.