Multiple Ways to Demonstrate Knowledge of a Scientific Concept

Students can write a story, create a video, or draw a cartoon to demonstrate their understanding of a scientific concept
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Multiple Ways To Demonstrate Knowledge

About This Strategy

This strategy supports students to demonstrate their knowledge of a scientific concept by writing a story, creating a video, or making a cartoon. Their work can be used as alternative form of assessment of their understanding.  This strategy is effective because it promotes student engagement by allowing students to demonstrate choice in their final product, as well as creates opportunities for students to be creative in a science classroom.

Implementation Steps

1. Choose a scientific concept or process that you want students to explain .

  • Some sample scientific concepts include: How an air parcel becomes a cloud or how does an air parcel rise.

2. Create a list of different ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge of the scientific concept or process. Consider having students engage in this list-making with you. Some possible ideas include: 

  • Students write a short story for an elementary school classroom explaining the scientific concept. 
  • Students create a short video explaining the scientific concept.
  • Students create a GIF explaining the scientific concept
  • Students create a cartoon explaining the scientific concept.

3. For each option, consider using a storyboard for the student to plan out what will happen in the scenes and what will be said.  Provide a template or a storyboard that students can complete with sentence starters about the specific events of the process. See resource below for an example storyboard

4. Share a rubric listing expectations for students' explanation, including with scientific process information and/or any/or any visuals needed. Consult the rubric in the resources section below. In the rubric, be sure to:

  •  List any definitions and details needed.
  • Specify the number of visuals required

5. Create a model or exemplar of the project to share with students. 

6. Provide sentence starters or templates for students to use. For example, 

  •  Students can fill in the blanks of sentence starters such as, "Energy is transferred from ______________  because ____." or "The air parcel is no longer on the ground, it is_______, because _____."

7. Provide resources for students such as a graphic organizer of concepts to to help remind them of the processes involved.  

8. As soon as the students start working on the project, consider providing a collaborative bulletin board on chart paper, a dry erase board, or a digital jamboard on which students can post their questions about the project and can see the answers to these questions from their teacher or from each other.

10. Provide time for students to share their projects with the class through individual presentations or a through a gallery walk.

EL Modification

This project can be specifically helpful to English Learners because it provides an opportunity for them to show what they know through visuals.  It also reinforces the science concepts they are learning by providing a way for students to retell the scientific concept they learned about through a medium that they choose. When an English Learner can explain a scientific concept to another student, it turns them into a teacher or facilitator and helps them to learn the concepts more in depth.  It  gives them confidence in their abilities to master the concepts at hand.  

Implementation steps:

  1. Give the student a template to fill in for their presentation if they need help getting started or they don’t want to create their own story located in the template below.

  2. Provide the student a word wall with the vocabulary words and visuals of the vocabulary used in this project (located in the digital notebook below).

  3. Consider an additional resource where the processes and vocabulary are explained using a concept or thinking map to be a resource for the students to use in completing their project ( located in the concept map below).

Special Education Modification

This strategy is effective for students with disabilities because it can draw upon students' interests. By using templates, concept maps, storyboards, and pre-made slides, students who struggle with processing or task initiation can be successful in this strategy. 

These additional resources will help the special education student to process the scientific concept more fully because it will help them to associate the visuals and the processes together.

Implementation steps:

  1. Give the students a template to complete in for their presentation with sentence stems.  Make sure that the sentence stems give a choice of comparison descriptors to help the students analyze what is going on in the science process. Also make sure that the sentence stems help the student to explain the science concept from the beginning event to the ending event.   

  2. Provide the student a word wall with the vocabulary words and visuals of the vocabulary used in this project.

  3. Consider developing an additional resource in which the processes and vocabulary are explained using a concept or thinking map to be a resource for the students to use in completing their project--see resources.

Multiple Ways to Demonstrate Understanding of a Scientific Concept for Distance Learning

This strategy can easily be used during distance learning because all material that is used in class can be placed on google slides.  Pictures can be made using screenshots or inserted from the web on these slides.  A Jamboard can be provided for students to post their questions on while they are working on the project.

Implementation steps:

  1. Make a set of slides for each resource.

  2. Insert pictures on the slides with screenshots or upload them from the web.

  3. Post a Jamboard for students to post their questions on.

Related Lessons

  • This strategy can be used with my Air Parcel That Wanted To Become a Cloud and Rain lesson because it puts into action telling a story about an air parcel that starts out as water vapor changing into a cloud that could rain and the scientific concepts involved. 

  • This strategy can be used with my Electromagnetic Spectrum Story lesson because in it students learn how to demonstrate their understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum by writing a story about it.