Is It Made of Parts?: Scaffolding a Formative Assessment Probe

In the article, author Page Keely provides insight on a real life example of using the probe “Is it made of parts?” as a means of formative assessment in order to make informed decisions about scaffolding the instructional opportunities the students will need to further develop a foundational understanding of the relationship between structure and function of living things. In order to scaffold the function and structure probe for assessment purposes, the teacher was given a standard and had to come up with sub-ideas that this probe can uncover at the specified grade level. After going through each sub-idea and probing students by asking deeper level thinking, the teacher was able to uncover what students know and what needs to be reviewed or retaught. This article is a useful resource for teachers because this strategy can be used at any grade level across all content areas and provides with teacher with areas that need to be focused on. This scaffolded formative assessment enables students to connect and build on to what they know, as well as providing teachers with valuable information that teachers can use to design instruction that builds upon and relates sub-ideas, while promoting higher level thinking. This article is also helpful in discussing how to break down learning goals into smaller sets of ideas that teachers can use to scaffold assessment and instruction.

Keywords: formative assessment, scaffold, function, structure, plants, animals, cells, organisms, sub-ideas, probe

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