Pre Assessments:

(Module 6 unit 2 activity 3)

The idea of pre assessment is to provide :

a) Elicit information about students’ readiness to learn skills and concepts; b) Gather information about students’ preferred modes of learning (including learning styles and grouping preferences); and c) Gather information about students’ attitudes about the learning, areas of interest within the study, and initial questions about the learning.

There is a number of ways to make pre assessments:

1. PRE-TEST( I provide sample of it though other types can be a better choice in case of my Unit which is on start level that is why I address part 2 of the unit)



Sample of pretest questionnaire:


In many subject classes, there are basically three bands of student levels. Higher achievers, average and those who struggle. Of course, there are individual cases and every student is unique but for the sake of this assignment and in general, I try to approach lesson planning in a way that encompasses three levels (deviations).

In addition, I create pre-assessments for every new unit with the same ideology. The assessments might include a simple KWL chart (What do you know?, what do you want to know?… and than ‘post lesson’ what have you learned?), Interest surveys, pre-tests and

I also use Compass Points (N = Needs, S = Suggestions, E = Excellence and W = Worries). I post 4 large poster sized sheets, one on each wall, and then I have students think ‘alone’ for 3-5 minutes, than they can share their ideas with a partner and write down their thoughts on ‘post-it’ notes and stick them around the room. This particular pre-assessment caters to students who are reluctant to communicate through classroom discussions.

“Adapted from Ron Ritchhardt’s Thinking Routine, Compass Points, this document is best used at the beginning of a unit of study. It provides a snapshot of your learners as they enter into a new academic venture. In this exercise, your learners will outline what they need in order to be successful, what they are excited about, what suggestions they have for you, and even what worries they have going into their studies.“

In regard to the 5 students who answered the most difficult pre-assessment questions correctly, they will be working more independently using the computer/laptops to extend knowledge via research and selected games for deeper understanding.

The 12 students who have some knowledge about the topic as shown by their score, will need to develop higher order thinking skills. They will ‘pair’ up to increase engagement and for further support. They will work together on various mini-projects.

The other group composed of 5 students who appear to have limited knowledge about the topic of cell function, will work with me to review terminology, location of cell parts and functionality.

At the end of the lesson, I will ask students to write brief reflections of what they learned in their Lab Journal.


Teacher Evaluations

113002bInherently, traditional teacher evaluations seem to have more of a negative connotation associated with the actual process as opposed to the intended/proposed conceptual ideology. To be clear, in my opinion, the process of teacher evaluations are to improve the overall quality of instruction and to impart/guide educators and offer alternative perspectives/insight from non-biase qualified colleagues.

anti High Stakes Assessments – point of view

High Stakes Assessment is exactly how it sounds. The assessments have more than just a financial cost attached to them, they can impact a student’s life severely, and not always in a positive way.

wishto be left behindHigh Stakes Assessment

Traditionally, these level of testing were used to demonstrate progress annually. Schools used this metric to provide an additionally statistic that helped provide another perspective of academic achievement. My husband describes a test that he took annually when he was a child in New Jersey; it was called the IOWA tests of Basic Skills (ITBS). It’s a standardized multiple choice timed test that covers, math, reading science and social studies.   He said that teachers made a very big deal about them but that ‘they’ were told that it does not affect ‘grades’ in anyway. He didn’t feel pressured and also mentioned that it was sort of fun… wasting a week and filling in bubbles with a #2 pencil. However, as a teacher with twenty years experience, he knows that schools place a lot more emphasis on these ‘assessments’.   For one thing, the assessments cost a lot of money. Two, higher student achievement usually equals more state/federal funding or at the very least, maintaining the current level of funding without penalty or auditing. Thirdly, schools uses these scores to attract students/parents: It’s a marketing’ tool.

plitical pressur High Stakes Assessment

My personal school experience is outdated as also in Russia they getting into idea of big test a bit more . Though I went trough standard -state education , we definitely had end of the year exams but only big exam was end of the school and in the end it was not the one to use for university. We were trained for exam process and one needed to go through entry exam to get to college. So mentality of learning to exam was in a system to the extend.

US is very big on all sorts of standardized tests – seems much more than other countries with a mainstream trend to place a greater emphasis on the exam. ‘Teaching to the test; this is how it seems now.   Many teachers are pressured to just get through the ‘basics’ without having the time to explore more in-depth. This might also make it more difficult to differentiate instruction and/or support top students or those with learning disabilities.

I think teaching to the test, lessons the quality of education. It also detracts from the fun and spontaneity of learning. Other subjects like: art, music, dance, technology are not given priority.   How does this impact engagement and creativity? Furthermore, the opportunity for cross-curriculum teaching is limited because the tests are strictly subject oriented.

The school year is generally 180 days long, but for some schools/districts, these tests can possibly represent a passing or failing grade for students. It’s really quite absurd that schools rely so heavily on these scores because it places so much negative stress on students and educators. In some instances, students experience mental health test anxieties that can lead to serious mental health disorders and even suicide. Additionally, the pressure can force some student to consider ‘cheating’ as the only option to pass the grade or graduate. Overall, it’s counter-productive to many ‘best practices’ that describe how the ‘process’ or the ‘act of learning’ is genuinely more reflective of a student’s comprehension and achievement.

High Stakes tests are contextually limited in scope. It caters to students in the middle class majority. In many cases, the assessments are culturally biased and do not reflect the lives and values of diverse communities and minorities.

Some US schools use the results to justify bonuses, demotions or even expulsions of their teachers! (that is also practice in China which also famous for result oriented pressure on students ). However, this practice seems neither fair, just or in the best interest of the student because of the numerous factors that can impact test scores, like socioeconomic status, family life and opportunities for professional development. Take away the high-stakes tests and get back to the joys of teaching and learning!

stressofHigh Stakes Assessment


Planning Assessments (Formative)

Module 5, Unit 2, Activity 2

Effective-Formative-AssessmentFormative assessments are typically embedded into most lessons. Most students do not even realize that an assessment might be taking place because it becomes a natural occurrence. Including students on how they will be assessed also happens to be an efficient way for learners to check to see how well they are understanding and achieving the objective.

The objectives for the three following formative assessments directly relate to understanding the primary roles of the nucleus, chloroplasts, mitochondria, cell membrane, and cell wall.

The first assessment is part of a daily routine that includes taking notes and summarizing each lesson in concise paragraph. This is also a great opportunity for students to ask further questions or communicate that they need some extra help. Some students may feel embarrassed to ask these questions during the lesson but in their ‘journal’, they tend to feel bolder and less inhibited.   It further helps me to identify the success of a particular lesson, modify future lessons and give personal feedback to individual students. Lastly, it helps strengthen the student/teacher relationship.

The second formative assessment uses ‘exit-cards’ that can quickly be applied and adapted for each student’s level of understanding. In many normal classroom settings, students with learning difficulties and/or TAG students might need these’ exit cards’ to be modified to fit their challenge level. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have these cards ready and organized well. Additionally, ‘exit cards’ can be used anytime during the lesson depending on the flow and how they are integrated into the lesson. In my lessons, I like to mix it up so that it’s not so predictable.

The third one : Using a ‘graphic organizer’ seems ‘old-school’ but I find it that it helps the learners grasp ideas in a visual way that utilizes and reinforces and enhances mnemonic skills. In this particular lesson, students will be writing their own descriptions for each role of the nucleus, chloroplasts, mitochondria, cell membrane, and cell wall. In addition, they will draw by hand each illustration or are free to find pictures and then attach the annotated function to each.

This allows the students work at their own level without external pressure that is sometimes associated with summative and uniform assessments. Learners are able to demonstrate to ability to rationalize and comprehend each role within the cell and it’s functions while showing how they achieve this task.



Standards and Backwards Mapping


Backwards Mapping

  • The subject and grade level I will be teaching: Middle School – Science
  • The standard and its source:

Futura school use NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) for Science.

Info about the source- NGSS development :

The National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve have completed a two-step process to develop the Next Generation Science Standards.

Step One: Getting the Science Right The NRC, the staff arm of the National Academy of Sciences, began by developing the Framework for K–12 Science Education. The Framework was a critical first step because it is grounded in the most current research on science and science learning and identified the science all K–12 students should know. To undertake this effort, the NRC convened a committee of 18 individuals who are nationally and internationally known in their respective fields. …..

Step Two: States Developing Next Generation Science Standards In a process managed by Achieve, states led the development of K–12 science standards that are rich in content and practice and arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally-benchmarked science education. The NGSS are based on the Framework and will prepare students for college and careers. The NGSS were developed collaboratively with states and other stakeholders in science, science education, higher education, and industry….

The standard I decided to use for the unit :

Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function.

[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the cell functioning as a whole system and the primary role of identified parts of the cell, specifically the nucleus, chloroplasts, mitochondria, cell membrane, and cell wall.]

[Assessment Boundary: Assessment of organelle structure/function relationships is limited to the cell wall and cell membrane. Assessment of the function of the other organelles is limited to their relationship to the whole cell. Assessment does not include the biochemical function of cells or cell parts.]

  • Why this standard for developing the unit:

This standard is very close to my own expertise and I will feel more comfortable to work on pedagogical techniques already knowing content well. It is also very particular area, which can be assessed in measurable ways and can be presented in an various ways

  • Proficiencies that indicate what students will be able to do when they finish this unit:
  1. Be able to identify parts of the cell, specifically the nucleus, chloroplasts, mitochondria, cell membrane and cell wall.
  1. Describe the cell functioning as a whole system.
  1. Know the primary role of the nucleus, chloroplasts, mitochondria, cell membrane, and cell wall
  • Learning experiences / activities to help students meet the standard:
  1. Group project =creating cell model containing different parts (can be eatable model) / making notice of cell parts in lab book
  2. Playing cell game: / marking right game answers on the provided diagram Standard
  1. Identifying cell structures during microscopic analysis of plant cells / drawing diagram of observed cell
  • Assessments that will help to know students are meeting the standard:
  1. Presentation of cell model with indicated cell parts
  1. Notes in the lab book containing cell parts chart and drawing of cell observed during microscopy lab
  1. Quiz on cell and organelles functions



Understanding and Applying Standards

Understanding and Applying Standards

Having set of standards to guide direction of teaching process seems very important.

Once school choose or creates that approach it brings some unity to teaching process of the school as it is important that teachers or not separated in their own world of teaching. Existence of common goals for school in general is important to insure that teachers are on the same page and have common ground for collaborations; and that students transfer between the classes or moving forward in grades happens smoothly and with logic of continuation and progress.

Unpacking a Standards means understanding standards, interpreting them, and translating them to them to the teaching practice language.

Learning about “ Big Ideas “ of standards is helpful to teachers for seeing a big picture of educational goals fro where one can break down that goal to particular steps and farther to particular learning objectives.

It is sometimes heard for the teacher to go through that process. But hopefully one can use collaborative approach and help of senior teachers in a school as well as previous experience of using those standards in that or other educational environment.

Using Backwards Mapping is very logical and seems necessary in order to make more particular progress in personality building and not just going through the list of necessary knowledge.

It does not seem like a breakthrough idea but may in teaching it was not considered enough due to pretty conservative nature of education in general.

To have a goal in mind is important not just for a teacher but also for a student. Setting milestones is the only way to make through the big journey.

Understanding why particular information, knowledge and skills are included in lesson gives a bigger meaning and helps to create lessons with richer agenda.

To know where you heading is also important for farther assessment of progress in relation to that particular goal. It can help to figure out what steps can be added or modified for the class or for individual student to reach that goal or to be on the right truck to it.

Thinking about objectives with help of “SMART” approach was really helpful.

Making your objective Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based helps with farther evaluation. That guides also helps to set important frame for nature of your objectives making them realistic achievable and logical for age – subject – ….

I think the chart of smart objectives is something is good to have a front of you once working on planning as a reminder.

Applying Classroom Rules and Procedures

Applying Classroom Rules and Procedures


This is a very difficult area to take a stand on because…there are many arguments that support both negative and positive reinforcement….Carrot-Stick-motivation-1

However, if the overall goal of these teaching methods are to encourage compliance, independence, self-initiative etc. Then using ‘external’ deterrents and/or incentives to encourage and shape behavior may in fact do the opposite.

“If you reward people for things they are already doing by their own volition, then they will begin to decrease their intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985)”

However, overwhelmingly, many teachers have difficulty understanding ‘intrinsic’ motivation and how they can incorporate it into the ‘normal’ classroom model. I believe we all understand that intrinsic motivation is the most effective form of reinforcement. This is basically Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory, ‘Flow’…. And though, this idea/theory on intrinsic motivation has been around for many decades, school systems and universities do not often emphasize or rely on this approach.

Daniel Pink illustrates intrinsic motivation:

check out the TED talk

Instead, the majority of teachers and school systems recognize students who are following/breaking the rules with positive and negative reinforcement. Depending on how it is delivered will of course greatly impact the effectiveness. Thus, even if you ‘script’ or ‘plan’ negative and positive consequences, the results will differ greatly from teacher to teacher and for each individual. Timing and frequency are key elements to emphasizing and amplifying this practice. A combination of randomness and planned positive/negative rewards/consequences could enhance students to act ‘better’ and follow instructions more consistently.

However, teachers and schools should be aware and evaluate the consequences so that they are proportionate to the offense and consistently enforced without prejudice. Sometimes, teachers/principals/school districts will show preferential treatment or punishment toward certain students or groups. This is not discussed too often in ‘education’ but cultural, ethnic and gender bias is definitely prevalent.

What do you think?

Negative Reinforcement Example: Students that arrive late for class from lunch recess will write a response/reason why they were late. After three ‘lates’, a message is sent home along with a copy of the student’s written ‘reasons’ why they were late for class. They message is to be read, signed and returned to the teacher with a parental response. In addition, the student’s recess is taken away.

Positive Reinforcement Example: If students have two weeks without any ‘lates’ they will receive an extra recess. If the whole class can return from recess on time for an entire month, a class party will be held to celebrate!

Positive Reinforcement Example: A special ‘certificate’ is awarded at random by the teacher (s) to students who demonstrate kind and considerate behavior toward their peers. Parents are then notified via a short email or note home explaining the event.


Link to Behavioral flow chart:

Chart here

Behavior Flow-Chart - New Page