It is amazing how quickly time passes by...I can't believe it has been months since my last post. Life has totally gotten away from me, so blogging had to be put on hold for a little while. Now that summer is here and I am awaiting baby girl's birth, I have a little more time to work on the blog posts that I started but didn't finish!
I don't know about you, but I have always had the hardest time pre-assessing my students in science and social studies. I didn't want to give them a test...and unfortunately I don't have enough time in a day to have a conversation with each of my students about a topic, so I tried to think of a better way. Because of this, I want to share an activity I love to do with my fourth graders, and with adults when I am leading a workshop. It is a strategy I picked up from a dear friend of mine, and I have used it for years now, Word Splash!
Word Splashes are a fun and easy way to take a quick assessment of a large group of people. The beauty is, that it can be used for any subject matter. With my students I type up a list of words that I feel are most important to our unit of study. For example my kiddos and I were beginning our study on New England. I gave my students words like; Plymouth, Pilgrims, 1620, Textile Mill, Puritans, etc. Once my kiddos have the words, they work in groups to organize them. They can organize them in whatever way they see that the words fit together. I do allow the students to have up to three words in a category called, "I have no idea" This allows me to see what topics or words they really don't know anything about.
Once the kids have their words organized we travel together as a class from table to table to listen to each group explain how they organized the words.
As we travel, I just listen. I don't give any suggestions or opinions on their categories or placements. They will learn the correct meaning of words as we work through our unit...this just lets me see any misconceptions they already have before we start the unit. It is always amazing to me how the kids do pick up on things. I will often have students say, "Oh, that is what that word means." When we are working through our unit, and it is because they remember the word from this activity.
When I work with adults, I will modify it a little. I do not give them the words on paper, instead I put the words up on a Power Point and have them jot each word on a small post-it. Since it is at a workshop setting I normally have them arrange their Word Splash on a piece of chart paper to hang around the room for the day, just so they can look back at it throughout the day. Adults will often get up and rearrange their word splash as they learn something new...which is a neat way for me as a presenter to see who is really getting what I am sharing.
Have you ever used Word Splashes before? What strategies/activities do you use to pre-assess your kiddos in science/social studies?