Assessments are an essential and valuable tool for evaluating students achievement and understanding of a lesson or units objectives. There are two main forms of assessment that an educator can use to have students demonstrate understanding and fulfilled the objectives. They are Formative and Summative assessments.
Formative assessments are to monitor students learning. As educators we use them to regularly assess student comprehension and target both strengths and weaknesses in a targeted area (the unit/standard/lesson). Formative assessments also provide instant feedback of comprehension to both the students and educators, in a low to no stakes format. That is that their grade is not greatly affected by the assessment however the information it provides is valuable to both parties. Examples of formative assessment can be as simple as a thumbs up/ thumbs down check for understanding to more complicated assessments such as a rough draft of a essay related to the unit topic.
Summative assessments are designed to evaluate student learning instead of monitor it. Educators use this to compare student comprehension to the objectives to see if those objectives are met. Summative assessments usually have a high point value and are more “high stakes than formative assessments. Examples of these include exams, projects, essays, speeches, presentations, ext.
Based on the objectives set for the unit on ecology and energy (Objectives for Example Standard) here are the appropriate formative and summative assessments.
One formative assessment that can be used to check if the objectives are being met by students it have a Know – Want to Learn – Will Have Learned sessions as a class or in partners before the lesson as a starter. This assessment is good because it engages them to reflect on previous knowledge to apply and predict what they will learn for the coming lesson(s). It is a quick and flexible task that can be done orally or written for a formal formative assessment.
Another formative assessment that is helpful for this unit because there are a lot of terms and profound ideas is to have students create an idea/mind map and update it each lesson with new information form that lesson. This is good because it allows for many learning styles to participate and engage with the formative assessment.
In addition, I always like to have some sort of exit ticket where students write down one term or concept that they understand as well as, one that they have trouble grasping. They they would turn it into me before exiting class. I like this method because it allows shy quiet students to get their concerns addressed and also allow me to differentiate and extend lessons.
When it comes to summative assessments this unit is particularly suited for a project. The project that would allow students to demonstrate completion of the objectives would be to have them research an ecosystem of their interest, construct a food web, identify organisms based on their position and behavior in that ecosystem, and summarize how energy flows through the ecosystem. This project allows for a lot of student ownership and diversity in how they show their understanding of the objectives.