The tired assessment system is an innovative approach we are using in MS science classrooms to meet the full requirements of NGSS. Most importantly we want to make sure that we are providing 3D learning experiences for our students that are anchored in scientific phenomena. But there is much more to it than that.
If you use the EQuIP rubric 3.0 as the benchmark to measure quality NGSS lessons, then we need to look beyond the 3D learning model into the other two categories. The three categories are:
I. NGSS 3D Design
II. Instructional Supports
III. Monitoring Student Progress
Category I is the most important. When reviewing a lesson using the EQuIP rubric, the second and third categories are not reviewed if category I does not show 3D learning goals are being met. However, our tiered assessment model nicely fulfills the requirements of providing instructional supports and monitoring student progress if implemented as intended.
Setting up Class
The trick to the tiered assessments, as in all learning scenarios, is classroom management. Without routines and procedures, the tiered assessment model may feel impossible. The teacher must put into place expectations that that students are capable of making decisions to meet the 3D learning goal. Many students are uncomfortable with this and will ask for support and guidance, even when they do not actually need it. They do not like to struggle or think through the process on their own. It is much easier to ask for directions and be given a checklist of things to do in order to get the "A".
A few things I have noticed while visiting Lynn's classroom is that she:
1. Sets up the class each day during the assessment in 5 minutes or less.
2. Explains where students are in the assessment, gives any details needed, and says she will be visiting table groups throughout the class period.
3. Meets with small groups to provide individualized guidance and support.
4. Expects that students will move on to the next portion of the assessment until she is able to meet with that group/individual.
5. Expects students to read through directions on their own and possibly mark up text to prove it.
6. Expects that students will go back and revise previously worked on parts it the product does not meet requirements for mastery.
7. Expects that students will peer review, provide feedback, and revise products before turning in to teacher for a final review.
Video Example of Setting up Class and Meeting with Small Groups
Cari Williams is a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for the Tustin Unified School District in Southern California. She holds a MS in Instructional Design and Technology from Cal State Fullerton and works on the side as a consultant writing science and STEAM curriculum and training teachers. After working for 12 years in the classroom as a middle school science and STEAM teacher, she transitioned into the role of Digital Learning Coach in 2013. In this role, Cari helped teachers innovate curriculum and shift pedagogies through the integration of educational technologies. Her most current work as a TOSA is focused on engineering design in robotics, computer science, and Makerspaces. She is an official VEX Robotics event partner hosting tournaments for teams from around Southern California as well as leading 28 robotics programs servicing over 100 teams in the Tustin Unified School District. Although her expertise has taken her deep into STEAM education, she remains passionate and engaged in helping teachers transition to the NGSS through participating as a Science Peer Review Panelist for Achieve and as a Professional Learning Facilitator for NSTA.