Posted by: Phil DeLong | September 4, 2015

Formative Assessment Through Forest Elicitation

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Students from different regions of the country (and other countries), and from dozens of different high schools or homeschool settings, add a rich diversity to the Conserve School learning community. This diversity of learning backgrounds presents our teachers with the challenge of assessing each student’s “starting point”, and then planning to accommodate for those differences. Each teacher utilizes their own formative assessment process to ascertain the knowledge, skills, and abilities that each student brings to their class. To assess her students, Leanna Jackan, AP Environmental Science teacher, has her classes participate in a process of forest elicitation. Students are asked to spend 15 minutes, by themselves, in a defined area of the forest near the LAB. During this time they are asked to quietly observe the forest around them, and to answer prompts such as, “What do you think this forest looked like 100 years ago?”; “What sources of energy might be derived from the resources around you?”; “Do you see any signs of pollution in this area?”; “How might climate change affect this forest?” Students are also asked to identify four marked trees and one bog plant. Leanna, Robert, Donelle, and Paul then use this information to get a sense for what the students know at the beginning of the semester, and adjust their teaching to the needs of the students. Students at the end of the semester will repeat the activity, allowing them, and their teachers, to appreciate what they’ve learned while here. The journey of discovery has only begun . . .

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

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