Assessment has been my focus so far this school year. I have been working to develop both new formative assessment tools and different types of authentic assessments to use at the end of units rather than the standard tests. So far I have greatly improved two of my biology units and gathered all of my assessment tools into packages for each unit.
First - Cell Structure and Function package which I posted yesterday after some fine tuning. Contains writing prompts, quick quizzes, and project ideas dealing with organelles, cell function, membrane structure. These activities are ready to be printed and used in the classroom. I used the included objectives list to keep track of which objectives I had assessed and how students were progressing.
Second - The Cell Division package includes similar materials focusing around the cell cycle, mitosis, cancer, and bonus activities dealing with stem cell research. My mitosis 4x4 puzzle and mitosis card sort activities have been my biggest sellers so I am really excited to be adding to my collection of cell division resources.
I have been assessing student understanding at least every other day in some way and hope to continue doing so. These aren't usually formal quizzes or tests and often I don't actually call them an assessment to the students. They are activities or review for them but provide valuable information to me to determine if students really got what I though they did out of the previous lessons. I am finding that by keeping track of which objectives I am assessing and how individual students performed on those objectives I am better able to adjust my teaching to meet the needs of a vary diverse group of students.
We have just started our big ecology unit which has a huge focus on stream ecology. I hope to work on developing many assessments to go along with this as well. My text book has a lot of ecology chapters but they are all very vague and general so I use a lot of outside resources for this unit. However, it has always been one of the last units I taught and has ended up being rather weak in my opinion. This year I have moved the unit up so that I have the time to give it the attention it deserves and can improve it so much. Hopefully in a few weeks I will have another collection of assessment tools to post for that unit.