Many different online technologies can be utilized for formative assessments. One of the features that I look for as I survey various technologies is the ability to collaborate. Student collaboration is important in education as it has reinforced learning. While not all online technologies can handle collaboration, many can.
Formative Assesment Method 1
Online Technology: easel.ly (https://www.easel.ly)
Easel.ly is an online system for creating inforgraphics. While I have often used Piktochart in the past, easel.ly has one characteristic that differentiates it from Piktochart; it is possible to create infographics collaboratively in easel.ly. This feature allows online students to work in groups on infographics. The students can build infographics together, adding to what others have done, correcting any issues, etc. The social interaction gained during this process can dramatically improve student learning.
Student Task: John Dalton developed his atomic theory based on the scientific discoveries of the time (Law of Definite Proportions, Law of Multiple Proportions, etc.). Since the time of Dalton, our understanding of the submicroscopic world has greatly increased. In groups of 2-3, use your knowledge of atoms and their properties to create your own atomic theory. Your theory should have the same “structure” as Dalton’s Atomic Theory but should be based in our modern understanding of the atom. Once you have constructed your atomic theory, use easel.ly to create an infographic that describes your atomic theory and emphasizes its key characteristics.
Aligned outcome: 4. Rewrite Dalton’s Atomic Theory to accurately account for our modern understanding of the properties of atoms. (Question Level: Synthesis)
Student Task: It is important to understand the physical and chemical similarities and differences between ionic compounds and covalent (molecular) compounds. Often, knowing these similarities and differences can allow us to better utilize the chemicals found in the world around us. In groups of 2-3, determine the general physical and chemical characteristics of ionic and covalent compounds. Pay particular attention to noting similarities between the two as well as the dramatic differences between them. With these similarities and differences in hand, your group will use easel.ly to construct an infographic that will visually illustrate to its viewers the similarities and differences that you found. Your infographic must include at least 5 characteristics.
Aligned outcome: 6. Compare the chemical properties of ionic compounds with covalent compounds. (Question Level: Comprehension)
Student Task: Chemists are often tasked with identifying and classifying unknown chemicals. One of the first tasks that needs to be considered is determining if the compound is ionic or covalent. Using your knowledge of the properties of ionic and covalent compounds, plan a series of chemical tests that you would use in order to identify whether an unknown compound is ionic or covalent. Your plan must include at least 4 chemical/physical tests. In groups of 2-3 create an infographic using easel.ly to lay out the plan listing the different tests that you would perform as well as explaining what information you get from each test and how that would help in the determination.
Aligned outcome: 7. Plan a series of chemical tests that would allow you to distinguish ionic compounds from covalent compounds. (Question Level: Synthesis)
Formative Assessment Method 2
Online Technology: VoiceThread (http://voicethread.com)
VoiceThread is an asynchronous online discussion management system. It allows instructors to set up prompts. The students can then reply to the instructor’s prompt as well as responding to each other. The biggest advantage of VoiceThread over most discussion boards that are built into LMS platforms is that VoiceThread can seamlessly integrate text, slides, voice, and video. Students are able to record their comments using their voices or video. The instructor can upload presentations and have the students reply to the presentations. Overall, VoiceThread offers a variety of assessment options.
Student Task: In the 1700’s and early 1800’s there were many discoveries that led up to Dalton’s Atomic Theory. It was through improvements upon Dalton’s Atomic Theory that scientists were able to develop our modern understanding of the atom. Two laws that were instrumental in the development of Dalton’s Atomic Theory are the Law of Definite Proportions and the Law of Multiple Proportions. While both laws were instrumental in the development of Dalton’s Atomic Theory, both seem, on the face of it, remarkably similar. Compare these laws by answering the following questions using VoiceThread:
- In what ways are these laws similar?
- In what ways are these laws different?
- When we look at the concept of the atom, what does each of these laws explain about the existence and properties of atoms?
Once you have completed your post, please comment on the posts of two of your fellow students. Pay particular attention to your fellow student’s answers to question 3. Did they miss anything?
Aligned outcome: 2. Compare the Law of Definite Proportion to the Law of Multiple Proportions, paying close attention what they imply about the atom. (Question Level: Analysis)
Student Task: John Dalton developed one of the first theories that concerned chemistry. His Atomic Theory has formed a foundation that allowed us to make all of our groundbreaking discoveries dealing with what our world is made up of and why it works. John Dalton didn’t work in a vacuum, however. He based his Atomic Theory on laws that were developed by his contemporaries. Create a VoiceThread post which answers the following questions:
- What did John Dalton learn from the Law of Definite Proportion?
- What did John Dalton learn from the Law of Multiple Proportions?
- What did John Dalton learn from Avogadro’s Hypothesis?
When you create your response, pay particular attention to how the existence of atoms as the fundamental building block of matter results in these laws. Once you have completed your post, please comment on the posts of two of your fellow students.
Aligned outcome: 3. Describe how the Law of Definite Proportion, Law of Multiple Proportions, and Avogadro’s Hypothesis were melded into Dalton’s Atomic Theory. (Question Level: Comprehension)
Formative Assessment Method 3
Online Technology: Twitter (https://twitter.com)
Twitter is a technology that can be utilized in both a synchronous and asynchronous manner which results in it being well suited for various educational tasks. The use of class or assignment specific hashtags allows faculty and students to track all conversions that are occurring among members of class. Further, the use of a hashtag can allow students and faculty to engage in live question and answer sessions. Another benefit of Twitter is its character limit. In order to tweet something, the user has to refine what they want to say into 140 characters. In the classroom setting this means that students have to digest the material before they can tweet. Additionally, in order to ask a detailed question, they have to really think about their question, which can often lead to the student realizing the answer to their own question and developing a better understanding of what they understand as well what they don’t understand.
Student Task: The Law of Definite Proportions was developed in a time before chemists understood that atoms are the building block of all matter. It was discovered that the ratio of the masses of each of the elements in a compound is the same regardless of where the compounds is sampled. For example, no matter where you get a sample of water, when you determine the masses of the hydrogen and oxygen in water you always the ratio of 8 grams of oxygen for every 1 gram of hydrogen, an 8:1 ratio. What does having a fixed mass ratio suggest about the properties of atoms? Compose a single tweet using Twitter to answer this question. Use the hashtag #GenChemDefinite in your post. Keep up with all of your classmates posts and reply to at least two of them.
Aligned outcome: 1. Explain how the Law of Definite Proportion (which deals with mass ratios) implies atom ratios. (Question Level: Analysis)
Student Task: Ionic and covalent compounds have different chemical and physical properties. For this assignment you will need to compose four tweets using Twitter:
- What is a physical property of ionic compounds? Use the hashtag #GenChemIonicPhys for this post.
- What is a chemical property of ionic compounds? Use the hashtag #GenChemIonicChem for this post.
- What is a physical properties of covalent compounds? Use the hashtag #GenChemCovalentPhys for this post.
- What is a physical properties of covalent compounds? Use the hashtag #GenChemCovalentChem for this post.
Once you have completed your tweets, view all the tweets that your fellow classmates have composed and reply to at least one student per hashtag. Pay particular attention to the following question: Is the property described a general property of this class of compounds (ionic/covalent) or is it specific to a subset of a class of compounds?
Aligned outcome: 5. List the basic chemical and physical properties of ionic and covalent compounds. (Question Level: Knowledge)