Reason for doing this task in the first place: Many students when creating models are all about making the model colourful, gorgeous, or big, or just as quickly as possible - they rarely (really rarely) create a model that models the system. Solar system is a good example because the pictures in a normal textbook are equally bad - pretty to look at but they teach nothing besides surface colours and maybe that Jupiter is 'pretty big'. Not really the fault of the textbook though! 

Curriculum objectives:

1. understand and apply analysis and evaluation processes (lots of possibilities for differentiation here - e.g. diff. by task: some students could write up the steps in the process but not the whole class at this stage)

2. identify and describe in their own words, the function of a model (this could also be a thinking objective but not now) and what makes a good model (criteria)

3. identify the role/function of evaluation AND the function of good feedback (i.e. 'good' feedback can contain 'bad' comments if those comments direct us towards what needs to be changed and help us do/create a better job/product)

Thinking objectives:

1. Practice ENV process: variable identification, variable selection, identifying function, values - range identification & recording

2. Evaluate usefulness of ENV in aiding evaluation of another person's work (obviously with a view to them being better at evaluating themselves!): How? - by comparing ease of evaluation with & without ENV table/model.

Date: End of September 2013 (early on in grade 7)

So that they do not have to evaluate each other (they can be a wee bit harsh at age 11-12! this is one of the reasons why I have to teach them explicitly how to evaluate) and can have a bit of fun too, I made the model Embarassed









Look at my solar system model Cool it's GREAT isn't it!? 

This is actually asking the students to evaluate my model...a difficult thinking task... I make sure to look as hopeful and proud as possible during this part so they feel really awful about saying it is really a terrible model.

Student evaluation/feedback examples: "It's really bad", "it doesn't work", "it's all wrong" etc etc  these are only a few examples - Note: depending on your relationship with your students and their 'internal' definition of 'evaluation' (i.e. if they see it as a negative/labelling process) you may have to do a lot of encouraging to get this bit going - so do wait/pause and/or elicit comments from the one who's face is telling you the model is rubbish and/or start the ball rolling by saying "it is rubbish isn't it!!" 

(Make the task harder)

After some comments I ask them to:

Please evaluate my model according to the criteria B/C and 1. assess my level, 2. give me detailed written feedback, so that I can improve. It should not take you long, only a few minutes.

When it is clear that they are asking more questions than writing comments - i.e. task is too hard I remind them about the ENV model possibility (if asking is there something we can do?). As they were recently introduced to the ENV model I do not really expect them to jump on it as a first possibility.


I have a much clearer idea in my own head now that (a) I want them to internalise this step and do it almost as a reflex...and (b) why I want this to happen. It is the same reasoning as is used in tabulating experimental results in an investigation and then using the table for many subsequent steps - pattern identification - graphing - proving scientific laws etc.

ENV as used by my students essentially a way of breaking down (analysing) a situation (E = element/object or situation) into recognisable bits (N = variables/parameters) that are easily quantifiable (V = values & value ranges)...and then moving on to complete the task.



The students then build their ENV models of the solar system objects (the E in element) and upload them (this is useful as I can see who still cannot create an ENV table). 



You have already worked on analysis of the solar system and yourself and your group have created an ENV table for "Objects in the solar system".

Now use your ENV table to evaluate my model....

Questions to help you evaluate the model... 

1. What is the function of my model in your opinion? 
2. How many variables are shown in my model (e.g. distance from the sun, colour etc.) 
3. Have I represented the values accurately 
4. Is my model effective? Why?/Why not?

5. How would you do a better model?

6. Use criteria B and C to assess my level (0-6) 

Write-up your evaluation with specific reasons (use criteria words) & UPLOAD your evaluation




# Alexander Sokol 2014-04-23 22:00
really glad you are back online sharing your experience with us.
I hope this is just the beginning and we will be able to learn what has happened since September.
May I also ask what kind of feedback on your posts would be useful to you at this stage?
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