Hannah Clemmons Teacher Work Sample April, 2011
Contextual Factors The second grade classroom this unit was adapted for is lively and fast-paced. The school
is a Chicago Public School located on the north side of Chicago. Both the school and neighborhood in which this classroom exists are growing and thriving. Almost all of the students in the school come from the surrounding neighborhood. A great proportion of the students are English language learners, with most of these students speaking Spanish at home. In the class, there are four specific English language learners. The school is moving away from purely book-based curricula, and pushing for more experiential learning and more authentic assessment. The head teacher in this classroom has worked in the Chicago Public Schools for a long time and is having difficulty making this switch. The classroom specifically is an accelerated class, with many of the students coming from the corresponding accelerated first grade classroom at the school. Some of the other students have come from different classrooms in the school or have transferred into the school. The teaching style used by the teacher in the classroom is mostly aural and text based. Students in the class tend to have a hard time controlling themselves during independent, hands-on activities. Students in the classroom were particularly excited about science at the time this unit occurred. Many students have expressed a desire to be scientists when they grow up. They are also excited by engaging lessons that provide more experience than simply reading from their
textbooks. The students are passionate about looking up and learning new things as well as debating new ideas. Many of the students have a great amount of prior knowledge, especially in science, and have actively engaged families, good study skills and strong reading and writing skills. In order to reach this particular group of students, the content of this unit had to be made engaging and meaningful. Because there is a wide range of prior knowledge, there will have to be large range of learning opportunities. While a majority of the students have a strong base, some of the students do not, and require a higher level of support through learning. The unit will have to be effectively differentiated to reach all levels of learners in the classroom.
Unit Content and Objectives The name of the unit presented is “The Sun and Its Family”. It is the fourth unit in the
McGraw-Hill 2002 Second Grade Science book. The main idea of the unit is as follows: “Earth’s rotation on its axis and its orbit around the Sun cause night and day and the seasons. The Moon orbits Earth and seems to change shape, depending on how light from the Sun shines on it. Stars produce their own heat and light, but the planets do not. The planets orbit the Sun, which is a star.”
The unit contains two chapters. The first chapter is titled “The Sun and Earth” and the second is “Moon, Stars and Planets”. The unit begins with the Sun and the Earth, the two celestial bodies that the students are most likely to be aware of, and progresses to the more abstract concepts of the Earth’s Moon, other planets in the solar system, and stars outside of our solar system. The unit encompasses 12.F Illinois State Objectives for early and late elementary: 12.F.1a: Identify and describe characteristics of the sun, Earth and moon as familiar objects in the solar system. 12.F.2a: Identify and explain natural cycles and patterns in the solar system (e.g., order of the planets; moon phases; seasons as related to Earth’s tilt, one’s latitude, and where Earth is in its yearly orbit around the sun). 12.F.1b: Identify daily, seasonal and annual patterns related to the Earth’s rotation and revolution. 12.F.2b: Explain the apparent motion of the sun and stars. 12.F.2c: Identify easily recognizable star patterns (e.g., the BIg Dipper, constellations).
The unit comes at the end of a longer study of Earth science. It is prefaced by a study of Earth and how it changes over time. The unit is followed by the most abstract content of the book, physical sciences, and the idea of matter and energy. In the series, the solar system is studied in both the year before and the year after second grade, with each year building on the instructional practice of the last. As many young children are, this particular second grade class has many students who are fascinated with the idea of space. In particular, many students have been excited by the recent de-promotion of Pluto to a dwarf planet. Science is, in general, an exciting topic for the class.
Many students are interested in science, and this has only been amplified by a science-based after school program currently happening at the school called â€œMad Scienceâ€?. This unit provides many hands on activities for students and is open-ended enough for teachers to differentiate it for their particular classâ€™s needs. The activities in the unit provide many avenues for students to access the information. Both the content, presentation and assessment call on the use of different languages to learn and reproduce the content presented. In these activities, visual arts and dramatics are used frequently for students to work with their ideas about the Sun and its family.
Assessment Plan (Pre-Assessment) The pre-assessment for this unit was open-ended so that students could demonstrate their
prior knowledge of the subject without being prompted by multiple choice answers or fill-in-theblanks. Students participated in a brief discussion about what they knew about the solar system to engage their prior knowledge. Facts stated during this discussion were recorded so that they could be considered when grading the assessment. After the discussion, students were asked to write and draw their understanding of the solar system. This type of assessment provided a good baseline from which to assess prior knowledge and interest for the unit. What the students chose to include in their descriptions and drawings demonstrated the understanding they have of what makes up the solar system and how the celestial bodies interact. What the students were able to produce demonstrates knowledge they have mastered. While the activity did not require students to generate any specific knowledge, it allowed the students to express the things they believed to be important in the solar system. The assessment gathered from this activity was sorted into three groups by the level of understanding both the writings and the drawings demonstrated for each student. Both pieces of the assessment were considered to account for language barriers, writing skills and artistic skills. In addition, in the case of a question of a studentâ€™s placement, prior knowledge about the student as a learner and a scientist were used to inform placement decision.
Use of Pre-Assessment to Inform Instruction and Differentiation From the pre-assessment data, three clear groups emerged. The first group of pre-
assessment data demonstrated little prior knowledge of the solar system. Members of this group demonstrated knowledge of the Sun and the Earth, but not much more. This group had a high concentration of students with lower reading and writing skills as well as students who have generally lower level of prior knowledge. Many students in this group have transferred into the school from another school or district. This group will greatly benefit from clear, participatory teaching that continually reinforces key concepts and understandings. The second group that appeared was the middle group that had a basic understanding of the solar system that was not inaccurate, but was also not well-developed. These students had varying characteristics. Many of the students in this group were excited about the information, or showed strong prior knowledge, but struggled with language barriers and with classroom participation. Others in this category had strong reading, writing and learning skills, but lacked prior knowledge about the solar system. This group will greatly benefit from questions that require them to name and explain concepts presented in the text, pushing their writing, science and thinking skills. The last and most advanced group of students were students who have well-developed science and thinking skills. Many of the students have overall strong prior knowledge skills, and work hard in school. The students in this group are often engaged in classroom learning and pay attention during class. This group also includes students who may not have as strong of general skills, but have a particularly strong prior understanding of science. Many of these students already meet the early elementary science standards concerning the solar system. They are
students who will benefit from articulating and explaining their understandings of the solar system, as well as considering their causes and implications in the solar system.
Differentiation for this unit was based on a What-How-Why model, in which students have to use different levels of thinking to advance their knowledge. Students were placed into levels based on their pre-assessment data and teachers’ prior knowledge of students’ learning styles and contextualizations. Each student was placed into the group based on their proximal zone of development, the space in which the teacher felt they could most benefit and learn most effectively. Students struggling the most with this science content will greatly benefit from specific recall involving vocabulary and simple processes from the content. These students will most benefit from “what” type questions in which they have to access the information and retell it. Middle-of-the-road students who have some understanding but do not excel with the content will benefit greatly from “how” considerations which require them to not only think about what happens, but also the process through which this happens. Excelling students may benefit most from “why” questioning. In this type of questioning, students have to understanding that what and how of concepts, and then consider why these things work and why they are important. This final type of thinking requires a much deeper understanding of content information and its connection to other phenomena.
Elise is the example student for the “What” group. She is an energetic African American girl. She works hard, but has less prior knowledge in science than many of the other students.
She also struggles with reading and writing skills. She is easily engaged and participates in class, but has difficulty connecting her participation to assessment measures. Elise received “what” questions during the unit in order to help reinforce the key concepts of the unit. Jorge is the example student of the “How” group. He is greatly excited about science, but often has trouble paying attention in class. Jorge is extremely bright, but is often understimulated in class and often gets in trouble for playing in class. He is also an English language learner, and is pulled out of the classroom once a week for English as a second language. Jorge received “how” questions throughout the unit in order to help him further explain his understanding and articulate the scientific processes being learned in class. Danielle is the example student of the “Why” group. She is enthusiastic, cooperative, pays attention in class and works hard. Danielle is quick to be a helper and volunteer answers during class. She has strong reading and writing skills as well as a strong background from which to connect to prior knowledge. During this unit, Danielle was asked to consider “why” questions which will help extend her knowledge and help her make connections from the material presented to other knowledge and content areas.
Assessment Plan (On-going Assessment) During the unit, studentsâ€™ understandings were assessed through discussion in the
classroom and questions posed to students based on their differentiated grouping levels. Answers to these questions were recorded in writings and drawings done by the students. Students were able to chose the language in which to display their understanding. This assessment was used to further inform the differentiation of the unit through changes in teaching styles to reach certain types of learners and the questions generated for each group of students.
Assessment Plan (Post-Assessment) Post-assessment data was collect in much the same way as pre-assessment data. As with
the pre-assessment, students were asked to write about and draw their new understandings about the solar system after a brief discussion about what we had experienced throughout the unit and . In addition, students were also given multiple choice tests from the McGraw-Hill book to assess their specific understanding of the book content presented and its learning goals and objectives. Studentsâ€™ progression for the unit was assessed through their participation in class activities, their writings and drawings, and the final tests for the two chapters of the unit. These two assessment pieces were then evaluated by the standards from the unit as well as in comparison to each studentâ€™s particular pre-assessment data. Most students showed significant improvements in their production of writings and drawings that represented concepts learned in the unit. With the objective book-based test, all students passed and most excelled, even without having completed the tedious corresponding worksheets provided by the textbook manufacturer.
C. Analysis of Pre-Assessment Student Data
Analysis of Post-Assessment Student Work Eliseâ€™s pre-assessment data shows a very beginning understanding of the solar system.
Some of the information she provided in written form is incorrect or incoherent. Her picture shows the Sun, but nothing else. Much of the information Elise recorded could have been gleamed from the opening discussion the class had about the solar system before the assessment was given. Her work does not demonstrate that she is meeting any of the standards that are in the unit. Eliseâ€™s post-assessment data shows huge gains in understanding. Her picture demonstrates a clear understanding how Earth and the planets orbit around the Sun. Her written assessment shows an understanding of stars, the moon, constellations and some of the planets. She provides more information and it is more accurate than her pre-assessment data. Throughout the unit, Elise has demonstrated that she has made clear gains in her understanding of the solar system. She has gained knowledge and is better able to articulate her understandings about the solar system. Between her post-assessment and the book-based chapter tests, it is clear that Elise is meeting the early elementary standards this unit addresses.
Jorgeâ€™s pre-assessment data shows a developing understand of the solar system. He mentions the Sun, Earth and the other eight planets. Although his pre-assessment data is lacking in some dimensions, all the information he gives is accurate. Jorge may have lost interest or been distracted during the pre-assessment activity. While his pre-assessment does not demonstrate that
he meets the standards addressed in the unit, it does demonstrate an understanding of the major celestial bodies in our solar system. In his post-assessment, Jorge demonstrates a much more developed understanding of the solar system. He drew the Sun and all nine planets, and labeled each planet’s order moving away from the Sun. His writing demonstrates an understanding of the planets’ orbits, the Moon, stars and constellations. He also mentions the Earth’s axis and rotation. In his chapter paper tests, he also demonstrates a stronger understanding of the solar system. During the unit, Jorge participated in all class activities and was quick to look up outside information and better his understanding of the content. He would even use free time in the classroom to strengthen his understanding of the solar system through books from the classroom and school libraries. Jorge’s understanding of the solar system grew throughout the unit and blossomed into a passion for science and space. His drawings, writings and tests demonstrate that he is meeting and exceeding all of the early elementary standards addressed in this unit.
Danielle’s assessment data shows the prior knowledge she had at the beginning of the unit and how this understanding grew into a deeper, more well-rounded understanding of the solar system and celestial bodies. In her picture, she demonstrates an understanding of the Earth in relation to the Sun, and that the Sun is a star. Her writing expounds on this understanding, and demonstrates a well-developed understanding of the elements of the solar system. Although some of the information she provides is not entirely accurate, this may be in affected by the fact that English is not her first language (even though she is not considered and ELL student). In the
classroom, Danielle demonstrates and excitement for learning and is constantly engaged with the material presented. In her post-assessment, Danielle demonstrates how her understanding of the solar system has been clarified and extended. She better articulates understandings that are shown in her preassessment and articulates new ideas about the Earthâ€™s axis and orbits. While many of the elements in her post-assessment were those in her pre-assessment, the post-assessment showed a much deeper understanding of the elements. Throughout the unit, Danielle was quick to participate, quick to give answers and quick to help others with the material. She showed interest outside of the classroom in the solar system and brought this interest back into the classroom. She was able to make connections between everyday events and their causations in the solar system. Through her post-assessments she clearly demonstrates she exceeds the applicable science standards for early elementary, and has a developing understanding of science elements in the late elementary science standards about the solar system.
Reflection and Planning for Continued Student Learning There are many things that could have been done differently throughout this unit to better
reach all children. During the unit, many kinetic activities were used to demonstrate how celestial bodies move in space. Participants in these activities gained great understanding through their participation, but observers only gained a small amount of understanding from the demonstrations. Many of the activities would have been enhanced if they had been performed in small groups rather than in a large group. Students would have also benefitted from more hands-on activities. Because space is such an abstract concept, it is hard to grasp. This could have been eased through the use of more models and having students create more models. This type of work would have better reached students who learn kinetically and who struggle with language-heavy learning. Also, as much as pre-designed worksheets do not seem student-centered, they can be beneficial to students in the connections they make between the science text and the pre-designed assessment. The students in this class are used to this type of work and to using the bookdesigned worksheets in order to learn the vocabulary and key concepts of the unit. Use of these worksheets would have further reinforced the learning going on in the classroom.
In this unit, I believe Elise, the example student from the â€œwhatâ€? group, would have benefitted from more worksheets and individual activities that would help to reinforce concepts learned in class. She would have benefitted from more repetition and activities to help reiterate the basic concepts and a slower paced curriculum.
I believe that Jorge, the example student from the “how” group, would have greatly benefitted from more kinetic learning opportunities. He would have been more engaged with smaller group activities that allow students to work together in explaining and dramatizing the phenomena being explored. I think that Danielle, the example student from the “why” group, would have benefitted most from activities that allowed her to help her peers develop their understandings of the content presented, while requiring her to better articulate and express her understanding of the material. This type of partnership would be beneficial to both Danielle and the classmates she would work with on the material.
Through this process and the larger context of student teaching, I have learned a lot about teaching and how students learn. It has been a difficult experience learning how to engage all students in active participation during lessons. In this specific unit, I was able to use much more kinetic learning than I had previously, and it very much helped students remain engaged throughout the unit. I was also able to incorporate more visual learning and discussion of images into the curricular content in order to better engage visual learners. The unit has further reinforced the knowledge that students learn better when they are actively engaged in the material they are studying. When students are engaged, their learning improves greatly, but engaging all children is extremely hard to do, even with an exciting topic like space. Engaging students in learning requires many things associated with instructional differentiation. Knowledge of your students, use of pre-assessment and documentation and continually differentiating content and delivery is
key to good teaching. Through these practices, teachers can work to reach all types of students and all types of learners. This type of teaching will help all students construct deeper understandings of the content presented and help students to develop positive dispositions for learning. When learning is mundane and tedious, students are not likely to be engaged. This effect is worsened by a teacher who is not engaged and excited about the material. Students require excitement to stay engaged. In addition to this excitement, students, especially young children, crave concrete examples of phenomena in order to begin developing an understanding of those phenomena. Giving the students connection to and excitement for material and learning helps them construct their understanding of the content presented. Teachers must plan carefully, thoughtfully and thoroughly to give these opportunities to all students.
Elise Work Samples (“What” Group) Pre-Assessment
“I know that one has a ring around it. And that it start from biggest to littlest. And that the sun is hotter than fire. Also that Pluto isn’t a planet any more.”
“I learned that earth is the third planet away from the sun. I know that a star is a hot ball of gasses. A pattern of starts are called a constellation. I know the moon has craters. I know that Jupiter has 28 moons and a ring. There are red and blue stars. The smallest planet is pluto.”
Jorge Work Samples (“How” Group) Pre-Assessment “The solar system is a place where once there were 9 planets but one of the”
“The solar system is a place for the nine planets and they orbit the sun. Our earth has an axis and our moon is 239,000 miles away. Stars make constellations and the moon has its own rotation.”
Danielle Work Samples (“Why” Group) Pre-Assessment “The Sun is in the solar system. And a lot of planets. They all orbit the sun. We live on Earth. Ploto is not a planet anymore. The sun is a star. There are many moons in our planet. We live in the solar system. We go in space, too. The solar system is far away from us. SOLAR SYSTEM!” Post-Assessment
“The Earth spins on a axis. The sun is a star. The moon orbits around us. Earth is a planet. A constalation is an imagenary line. The sun is a hot ball of gas. We live in space. Earth has seasons. It also creats time when it spins.”
Pre-Assessment Lesson Plan Name: Hannah Clemmons Unit Title: “The Sun and Its Family” Lesson Title: Our Solar System: What do you know? Subject Area(s): Science
Date: April, 2011
Grade: Accelerated 2nd
Time required: 25 minutes
Materials or Technology Needed: - blank paper - lined paper - large-lined paper
Format/Grouping: Large group, individual
Activity/Material Preparation Needed:
Purpose: This activity will provide pre-assessment Objectives: information for the two-week unit “The Sun and Its Family”. Students will create linguistic and visual representations of It will also remind students of prior knowledge they have their understanding of the Solar System which will serve as about the Solar System pre-assessment for the unit. Key Vocabulary: Solar system, Earth, Moon, Sun
Standard(s): 12.F.1a Identify and describe characteristics of the sun, Earth and moon as familiar objects in the solar system.
Anticipatory Set/Connection to Prior Knowledge: Ask children questions to get them thinking about space and the Solar System. “What is the Solar System?” “What does the Earth look like in space?” “What else is in space?” “How big is space?” Activity: Differentiation/Extensions: - Have children put names on their papers (back side of blank paper) During this activity, children are using multiple languages to - Ask children to write down what they know about Earth, represent their knowledge, which is beneficial to English the Sun, the Moon and the Solar System. Remind children to language learners and children who excel with different not worry about getting answers right or wrong, but to means of representation. simply write down what they think. - Second, have the children use blank paper to draw a picture Y.L. – Give extra time to complete pre-assessment. that demonstrates their understanding of the Solar System. Again, this isn’t going to be graded, so don’t worry about it. Give all students the option to use large-lined paper for the - Finally, give students a short time during which they can written portion of the activity. add more detail to either piece. Circulate answering questions as the students work on their writings/drawings.
Closure: Have students open their science books to page D1 (introductory page for the unit). Discuss what is pictured on the page. Ask students what they think they will learn throughout the unit. Assessment: The linguistic and visual representations created by students will be used as pre-assessment for the unit “The Sun and Its Family” to evaluate prior understandings and create a baseline for differentiation in the unit.
Post-Assessment Lesson Plan Name: Hannah Clemmons Unit Title: “The Sun and Its Family” Lesson Title: Our Solar System: What did you learn? Subject Area(s): Science
Date: April, 2011
Grade: Accelerated 2nd
Time required: 25 minutes
Materials or Technology Needed: - blank paper - lined paper - large-lined paper
Format/Grouping: Large group, individual
Activity/Material Preparation Needed:
Purpose: This activity will provide post-assessment information for the two-week unit “The Sun and Its Family”. It will allow students to summarize and demonstrate what they learned during the unit.
Objectives: Students will create linguistic and visual representations of their understanding of the Solar System which will serve as post-assessment for the unit.
Key Vocabulary: Solar system, Earth, Moon, Sun, orbit
Standard(s): 12.F.1a Identify and describe characteristics of the sun, Earth and moon as familiar objects in the solar system. 12.F.2a: Identify and explain natural cycles and patterns in the solar system (e.g., order of the planets; moon phases; seasons as related to Earth’s tilt, one’s latitude, and where Earth is in its yearly orbit around the sun).
Anticipatory Set/Connection to Prior Knowledge: Ask children questions to get them thinking about space and the Solar System. “What did we learn about the Solar System?” “What was your favorite part of the unit?” Activity: Differentiation/Extensions: - Have children put names on their papers (back side of blank paper) During this activity, children are using multiple languages to - Ask children to write down what they learned about Earth, represent their knowledge, which is beneficial to English the Sun, the Moon and the Solar System. language learners and children who excel with different - Second, have the children use blank paper to draw a picture means of representation. that demonstrates their understanding of the Solar System. - Finally, give students a short time during which they can Y.L. – Give extra time to complete pre-assessment. add more detail to either piece. Circulate answering questions as the students work on their Give all students the option to use large-lined paper for the writings/drawings. written portion of the activity. - Collect drawings and writings.
Closure: Ask students to tell what they liked and disliked about the unit. Ask students what their favorite parts of the unit were. Assessment: The linguistic and visual representations created by students will be used as post-assessment for the unit “The Sun and Its Family” to evaluate what students learned throughout the unit.