Science 9 – For the final assessment in the electricity unit, I constructed 4 “black boxes”that had batteries and 3-4 bulbs wired in a variety of ways. The task for the students was to connect the batteries to turn on the circuit and then unscrew (and then re-screw) one bulb at a time to see what effect it had on the circuit. From this they would draw a schematic for the circuit.
The students really got into it! A couple of the circuits were pretty easy but there was one in particular that was difficult for them. As a teacher, it was so nice to see them work so hard to figure it out. Eventually students started sharing ideas a little bit. I guess in a strict sense, this would be a type of “cheating.” However, they weren’t being deceptive about it, I was right there while it was happening. While we can say that an assessment is useful for figuring out where the kids are in their learning, assessment should also be a learning experience as much as possible. I couldn’t ask for anything more from the students and this assessment.
Finally, the kids pretty much all really liked it. There were a couple of fist-pumps from students after they figured out a circuit and despite the difficulty level of the assessment, they really loved it. Challenges and tests can be liked, it’s all about finding that sweet spot for authenticity and being within a student’s capabilities (aka Vigotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development).