I always begin the year by having students learn how to use science tools (balances, graduated cylinders, meter sticks, etc.). They must make accurate and precise measurements, plus understand how to do simple metric conversions, like how many centimeters are found in one meter. They had a measurement quiz last week where they had demonstrate these skills. As in past years, students received a grade (1-4) for each specific skill. As in past years, students who earned below a “3” on a certain skill as responsible for practicing this skill and showing me they could do it correctly.
What changed this year was HOW students did their measurement revisions. I used to run around the classroom like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to observe and record 20+ students make measurements. This year, I had students record evidence of their measurements using their iPads. The one rule was that for every skill they needed to revisit, students had to measure two different objects, so I was sure they could do it correctly. However, they were allowed to choose any app on their iPad, as long as they were able to add photos and text. Here are a few apps that I recommended:
- Explain Everything
- Skitch (now has a rating of 17+ so if students don’t already have it, they won’t be able to install it from the App Store.)
- Pic Collage (similar to Skitch)
- Notability (though I encouraged them to branch out and try something new)
Length (not pictured)
Students must be able to measure the length of an object using a ruler and record this measurement in three different units : mm, cm, and m. Their revisions had to include a photo of an object with the ruler (or meter stick) positioned on top or on the side so I could clearly measure the length myself.
Students must be able to record the mass of an object using the correct precision of the balance. Their revisions had to include a photo of the same object on three different balances (each with a different precision) and record the mass as seen on each balance.
Students have to measure volume of small and large objects using the formula: volume = length x width x height. Their revisions had to include a photo of the rectangular prism, and each side had to be labeled with the length in centimeters. They also had to show their calculations for calculating volume and include the correct metric unit.
Students have to measure volume of small solids using the water displacement method. Their revisions had to include a photo of the graduated cylinder and solid object. They could either have two photos (one before and one after the object was added), or they could have one photo where they clearly labeled the initial and final volume. They also had to show their “work” for determining the volume of the solid object and include the correct metric unit. (There were specific metal cylinders I had students measure for their revision work. I already had these volumes recorded so I could quickly tell if their measurements were correct.)
The end result was much better than years past! I sat at my desk and students lined up to show me evidence of their learning. I was able to check in with a lot more students in a shorter amount of time. Another benefit to this approach is students will be able to use these as artifacts for the student-led conferences in November. Last year, they would not have this evidence to prove they improved their measurement skills, but now they do.