Category: Whiteboarding

A Unit Review Day Activity that Works!

One feature of my Standards Based Grading model is that at the end of each unit of study is a summative (yet formative) “End-of-the-Unit Assessment.”  This comes after several formative quizzes given during the unit of study.  For years (really since I began teaching) I’ve always struggled with the dreaded “Review Day” before an test/exam/assessment/whatever  you call it.  Yesterday I had one of those AH-HA moments and think I might be on to something!

Two days before the scheduled Unit Assessment I gave my students a self-assessment sheet for the  unit that looks like this:
Self Assessment

Link to the pdf here: Self Assessment

As you can see the format of the Self Assessment is that the specific Learning Goal is listed along with a sample question that relates to that goal.  Students were then to score their own confidence and explain why they scored themselves the way they did for each goal.  I collected these sheets  from the students and used them to setup review groups for the next day’s class.

Based on the students confidence level for each goal I split the class into groups.  I essentially placed the student in the group that would focus on the goal they were least confident with.  It worked out that we had pretty even groups of 3-5 in each, which was nice.  In class the day before the assessment I had two review questions printed for each goal.  I placed each group of students on a whiteboard with a large sheet printed with the two questions on.  They spent 10-15 minutes discussing and answering the questions in front of them.  I told the groups I would not come to help them until they had something relevant written on their board.  After about 10 minutes I walked around group to group and guided them if they needed it, but most were good.  I found that most groups had a nice mix of students that knew at least something about the problem, and others that needed more guidance.  This got them talking with each other.

2014-10-30 09.35.39 2014-10-30 10.47.56 2014-10-30 10.55.31-2

After each group completed their board we did a Whiteboard Gallery walk where the groups rotated from board to board to see what questions were asked and what answers were given.  If there were questions I made myself available to discuss things with small groups.  With the time we had left in class I gave out a traditional practice “review” sheet for students to do on their own if they chose to.

I liked the way the activity gave structure to the review day that wasn’t just me talking and going over stuff.  It was also individualized for each student based on their own confidence levels, not just random grouping where they might be working on problems they already know.  It also is so much better than giving them a “free day” to be productive and review on their own, because we all know how that turns out.

Semester Review AND Building the Constant Acceleration Model

This week if finals week at school so our normal cycle of learning gets interrupted.  I’m lucky this year however that we are in the process or building our constant acceleration model.

I know it seems late in the year that I’m just starting constant acceleration, but I went with the a “Unit 0” to start the year, and then Constant Velocity and Balanced Force before Acceleration.  I definitely like the change in order but it has taken me a long time to be comfortable to move on when students were still working through understanding everything.  By using SBG I’m able to track that as well.

So today served as a silver bullet for me and my students.

I gave my students the following guidelines for their task today:

CVM Review AND Building CAM

Basically I asked them create a whiteboard that will both review what the graphical models of constant velocity show as well as to extend those ideas to the graphs we looked at from carts speeding up and slowing down on a ramp.  (We used Motion Detectors prior to this to see the graphs and shared whiteboards about the data collected, but we didn’t finalize ALL of our thoughts.)

I said they can organize it anyway they wish that makes sense to them, and will help them review and hopefully draw connections between the two models.  Groups will share their boards tomorrow during our “semester review” time.  (I will try to post some pictures of what they come up with).  I will let you know how that turns out.

As always, if you have done something like this, or have some ideas for me to improve, or have questions about what I’m doing PLEASE comment below.

Whiteboard Peer Review

I’m always looking for news ways to change up the whiteboard process I use (almost daily) in my class.  Whiteboarding is amazing, it gets and keeps everyone involved in the process of scientific thinking and problem solving.  However, early on each year I struggle with getting the students involved in the questioning and discussion process during WB presentations.

My theory is that it is an intimidation factor.  Students have a hard time adjusting to being able to questions their peers in front of a larger group of peers.  Usually in my Chemistry classes it is the first time students have been exposed to “low pressure”/”conversations starting” presentations such whiteboards.  Most have experienced the dreaded report presentation but that is it.

This year I tried something different to get the conversation started while my Chemistry students were whiteboarding the Modeling Chemistry worksheet on density.

I split the class into groups and gave each one problem to work on (students were to work on all of these problems individually before they came to class).  The problems on this WS consist of a mass vs. volume graph and several questions relating to that particular graph.  I gave the groups about 8-10 minutes to work on their problems.

As groups finished up working on their problems I rotated the boards themselves so that each group was looking at someone else work on a different problem than what they just did.  I gave them the following instructions:

  • Do NOT change any of the work on the board.
  • Write at least 1 relevant chemistry question about something that was on the board (Not why did you spell this wrong?)
  • Even if  you agree with everything on the board you need to write 1 question you would like to ask the group about why or how they did something.

I believe this process is similar to a “Whiteboard Museum,” but my classroom is not set up well for that at all, and I’ve never seen that done where students actually write questions right on the boards.

Here are a couple of examples of the boards I got.  (These aren’t the best ones I had all day, but I forgot to take pictures during my first couple of classes):

Overall I really liked the  way this whiteboard modification turned out.  There were a couple of benefits my students gained from this WB modification.

  • It gave everyone a sense of what I am looking for during the “questioning” phase of whiteboarding.  The whole idea of asking a question even if the answer is correct and they agree with the answer is foreign to them.  This forced their hand a little bit, to understand I’m more interested in the overall process of them “getting” a problem.
  • It allowed the shy students that have a lot of great questions and insights a chance to ask a question without asking in front of everyone else.
  • As groups presented the boards we were able to skip them explaining some of the WS problems they had been assigned.  Since all groups already looked over the boards and didn’t have an questions on a particular problem we saved that time.
  • As the groups presented they were able to focus their explanations based on the questions written on the board.  It gave them a sense of “direction” for their presentation.

I don’t think I will do this every time I whiteboard (especially not for labs), but when WBing a set of worksheet problems it seems as if it could be an effective way to change things up.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts and comments about this.  Have you done something similar?  What could I do better?  Different?  Please post below!