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Assessment Project

Mia Angelis

EDU 342

Science Buddy Write Up


This fall 2017 year I had the opportunity to have a fourth grade science buddy through

Rosepark Elementary School in partnership with Westminster College. A wonderful

experience that helped me to individually guide a student through the science process, an

experience so personal and one that I will probably never have the opportunity to do

again. My science buddy’s name was Nathan, he was born and raised in Salt Lake City

and had never been to the Great Salt Lake previous to our science field trip. Nathan loves

to play soccer and hangout with his friends and he has a twin brother who he loves to

goof around with. When asked what his favorite subject was he said science, with no

hesitation. Nathan has a yearning to learn and the patience to get there, although Nathan

has a hearing impairment that requires him to wear a BTE hearing aid that never stopped

him from asking questions or getting out there and going the extra mile. I feel confident

when saying that Nathan and I both equally learned so much from each other during this

experience and I am so excited to share our results with you.

Skills I assessed:

Throughout our science buddy-ship I assessed a variety of skills. The main skills I

assessed during this process include observing, communicating, measuring, predicting,

inferring, identifying and controlling variables, formulating hypotheses, interpreting data,

and experimenting. Nathan was assessed on the above skills over the course of about two

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months. I assessed Nathans observations skills frequently, this is a skill that he loved to

do and was very good at. Nathan observed at the both the lake and in classroom settings,

posing questions to me along the way such as: “why does the sand look like_____? How

come the water is _____ color?” Nathan also tied communicating into his observation

skills. When he would ask a question he would communicate why he was asking the

question and if I asked the question he would clearly communicate through his

observations why and justify his reasoning. Nathan used inferring and predicting

frequently throughout the processes but especially during lake day. I was pleasantly

surprised to see how much Nathan interacted and engaged during that day given how

hectic it was. Nathan was constantly looking for items to infer or make predictions about,

and always picking up items or wafting smells so he could do the same. Nathan made it

easy to ask questions because he was always so inquisitive himself. When it came time to

begin to outline the experiment Nathan was quick to form a hypothesis about how the

experiment would turn out. He made the hypothesis that the tap water would freeze first

out of our three liquids because it did not have salt or sugar in it. A hypothesis that

Nathan could justify through verbalizing his thinking, and communicating. Nathan used

measuring during his actual experiment part of the project. Together him and I came up

with and identified the controlled variables, which would end up being the types of

liquids and the amount of liquids that we would use in the experiment. Nathan was

thorough during the experiment set up and ensured we used the same amount of orange

juice, tap water, and Great Salt Lake Water. During the experiment, Nathan was able to

follow directions and write them down so others could follow the same procedure as

well. We did two trials of the same experiment to validate our results and following the

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conclusion of both experiments he was able to interpret the data that yielded from the

experiments. Nathan helped to create a bar graph so passer-byers would easily be able to

reference our data sheet and see that all of the liquids froze. As well as what order the

liquids froze in. He collected data and used it as evidence during his conclusion and

whether he rejected or accepted his hypothesis. I was amazed by how many skills I was

able to assess on my buddy. Each time I met with him he was more and more excited to

share with me what he learned.

Types of assessments I used/ Student Progress:

During the assessment process I used both formative and summative assessments to

assess Nathan. My forms of formative assessment that I used include the circle papers

that I filled out daily after each time we met, as well as informal conversation. The circle

papers helped immensely, especially while doing this write up, I can clearly see that

Nathan did improve during our time together. Fortunately, Nathan came from a positive

background outlook on science and looked forward to learning more about it, this

mindset helped massively while I was teaching Nathan. From lake day all the way to

poster session day I was able to watch Nathan go from a 1 to a 3.5 on “student relates

investigation to prior experiences” and this wasn’t the only area that I saw a large jump in

Nathans understanding. I also saw a jump on “student suggests causes for what is

observed” – when we first went to the lake, Nathan was able to make inferences and ask

questions but he didn’t know why. After lake day and completion of the science project

Nathan was able to suggest causes for what was observed. He went from a 1 to a 3 on this

section as well. I also used informal conversation to formatively assess Nathan. This

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occurred frequently throughout the duration of our partnership. It was by far the easiest

form of assessment and for me, the most helpful form as well. It really helped me to

gauge his understanding and where I needed to specify in more depth. As far as

summative assessment goes, I used the poster session and the post-test as summative

assessment for Nathan. The poster session astonished me. Aside from a few guidewords

here and there from me, Nathan was able to lead his own explanation of what processes

he went through to create and execute the experiment as well as what his hypothesis was

and whether he accepted or rejected it. It was like a proud teacher moment, I don’t know

how to explain it, but I learned a lot about what Nathan learned from our time together

that day. It is one thing for me to assess Nathan based on what I watched during our

constructing stage of the experiment, it was a whole new concept for me to watch Nathan

in what could have been an overly sensory task given his hearing aids and the amount of

people/noise that day, but he showed me a whole new side of what he learned. The

second form of summative assessment I used was the post-test. The post-test posed as a

little more of a difficult challenge for Nathan, it was much easier for Nathan to orally tell

me what he learned rather than writing it down. However, he still answered the questions

with his same knowledge of that he did during his poster session, it simply took a little

more guidance. It was essential for me to use both forms of assessment in order for me to

assess what Nathan learned during this process.

How formative assessment changed my interactions/the way I worded questions:

The use of my formative assessment, in particular the informal conversation, greatly

shaped and changed my interactions with Nathan as well as the way I worded questions

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that I would ask him. When I first began to work with Nathan, I would ask more broad

questions, because from my prior experiences this sometimes would help kids to not feel

so isolated on the ideas they could think of. However, with Nathan this had the opposite

effect and he seemed lost when I would ask the questions. About halfway through lake

day, I realized the way I was asking questions to assess his prior knowledge was yielding

unsuccessful. I began asking more specific questions or guiding questions. Once I

adjusted the way I was asking questions I began to see much better results and the boy

who looked at me like a deer in headlights began to show all of his scientific knowledge

that he had stowed away. When I was ready for Nathan to start to form an experiment I

didn’t ask “What interested you at the lake?” I asked him, “Were you interested by the

sand? Did the shrimp interest you? What interested you about the salt water? Oh, you

heard it doesn’t freeze… should we try that?” Simply setting Nathan up for question /

answer success helped him to feel more confident when answering. I didn’t leave the

questions open ended as frequently, occasionally I did because I would be impressed by

the way his mind worked, but most of the time I helped to guide him through the

question. Once I started to ask questions differently I noticed most of the formative

bubble sheets I filled out began to increase as well. I saw little jumps, even by .5, but it

was something that helped me to concur that by changing the way I asked questions

helped Nathan to preform better during our science time together. This was a great first

hand experience that not all questions are created equally. Sometimes if I asked too many

questions or spoke too quickly it would be hard for Nathan to process everything fully

because of his hearing aids, so by me adjusting my approach to the way I asked questions

aided in the positive outcome of his learning experience.

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Nathan is an extremely bright scientist, creator, engineer, and student with an amazing

future ahead of him. He is talented in his thinking skills and works fluidly and efficiently.

For his future endeavors the way questions are asked to him and the amount of questions

that are asked should be carefully thought out to best assist in his learning. Nathan’s

‘hearing impairment’ did not negatively affect his learning, but rather I believe it

enhanced it. Hearing impairment or not, the way students learn is different and should be

personalized for each student. By adjusting the way I asked questions helped Nathan to

confidently answer questions and be assertive in asking me questions. Nathan loves to

learn new things and if it seems like a challenge he is up for it. For those in the future

who will work with him it is best to give this student a positive learning atmosphere by

helping to address thinking that may be conceived as ‘incorrect’ or ‘off-track’ and re-

direct him back on course. He works well in groups as well as independently but it is

important to ensure that if he is in a group that he can be near the speaker so he can hear

best and be away from too many other distractions. Personally, from my experience with

this student I don’t have any overarching concerns to address. Nathan can come off as

shy so don’t overlook him, he often knows the answer but just needs the scaffolding to

answer it. Those who will get to work with this student are fortunate and should embrace

the open mind of someone with such potential.