The next day, we began focusing on insulators. We wrapped a plastic bottle with various materials, filled it with hot water, and submerged it in an ice bath for 15 minutes. Based on the temperatures at the end of the experiment, we learned that some materials kept the heat in better than others. These materials were considered good insulators, while the bottles that lost a lot of heat were considered poor insulators.
Students could use any three materials that they themselves brought into class or that I had in the classroom to wrap their bottles with. In order to have my students use the skill of evaluation, I told the class about each material that I had for them. They were instructed to write them down, and rank order each from good insulators to poor insulators in some format to the best of their knowledge (since we had not used some of these materials yet). Since everyone did this in different ways, their thinking became visible to me.
(1) Some students made a T-Chart. As they saw each material and heard me describe them, some students classified each material as either a poor insulator or a good insulator. On this particular photo, you can see them making a revision as well, moving cotton from a good insulator to a poor one.
(2) Some students made a list of each material, preferring to wait until the end to determine which materials would be the best insulators (notice the numbers next to three of the materials). These students had to hold all the information in their heads while each new material was introduced, because they made no notes as reminders, nor categorized them ahead of time. This particular student noticed that two of the materials were so similar that they didn't even deserve separate rankings (glittered felt & felt), so they clustered them together.
(3) Some students didn't stop at just ranking the top three insulators, but ranked all 13 materials! Looking closely at these rankings, what do you notice about this student's understanding of insulator materials? I was able to learn a lot about this child's readiness from looking at this one.
(4) Some students wrote all the materials down and then re-wrote them in order from worst to best insulator (or vice-versa). Afterwards, they determined which three materials they would like to choose first, second, and third. Clearly, students used different techniques to evaluate the information. Again, this format for evaluating insulators made their thinking visible, and I am better able to see who I need to re-teach or give extra support to.
Another activity we did recently that involved Evaluation was choosing our first books for novel groups. I give my students 10 book choices and they are asked to look at the front cover, back cover, and the first few pages of the book.
My students with their thinking faces.
Students have a vested interest in evaluating effectively during this activity because their next ten days of reading will be based on their input! They take this process very seriously and, in my opinion, they develop the skill of evaluating during the process!
(All images below are from: