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Science Formative Assessment Tools and Resources


Here you will find a variety of tools and resources to use with the science formative assessment publications. Check back periodically as new tools and resources are added.



Using the probes and FACTs with the Scientific and Engineering Practices handout

Embedding formative assessment probes and FACTs into the 5E Instructional Model. Click here for suggestions.

Correlation Guides for the Uncovering Student Ideas in Science Probes and the Next Generation Science Standards: The NGSS are based on the disciplinary core ideas from the Framework for K-12 Science Education. These correlation guides link the disciplinary core ideas from the Framework to the USI probes.  These guides will be updated as new USI books are released.




PICTORIAL CARD SORT RESOURCES- Card sorts are one of the Formative Assessment Classroom Techniques described in the "FACTs Book" that can be used as an alternative to the paper/pencil version of a justified list probe. The following sets of cards are designed for English language learners or early readers. Each word in the card sort set is accompanied by a picture. Download, print out the cards and provide a set to each small group, following instructions in the "FACTs Book". Teacher notes for each probe are provided in the USI books.

  • Is It An Animal? -(USI Vol 1- Keeley et al., 2005)
  • Is It Living? - (USI Vol 1- Keeley et al., 2005) Note: This version is adapted for K-5 by eliminating bacteria, mitochondria, molecule, and cell.
  • Can It Reflect Light? - (USI Vol. 1- Keeley et al., 2005)


SETS OF STUDENT WORK- Facilitators of professional learning can use these sets of actual student responses in their professional learning settings. While ideally it is best for teachers to bring their own student work, there are times when it is helpful to examine a class set of student work from an anonymous teacher and class. These are class sets from heterogeneous classes. The responses have been transcribed using the students' own words. In some cases, the spellings have been corrected so as not to detract from examining the students' thinking. The following sets of student responses to various science probes can be downloaded:

  • Talking About Gravity- Grade 8 responses (From Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 1)
  • Ice Cubes in a Bag- Grade 7 responses (From Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 1)
  • Floating Logs- Grade 8 responses (From Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 2)
  • What Are Clouds Made Of?- Grade 5 responses (From Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 3)
  • Where Did the Water Come From?- Grade 5 responses (From Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 3)
  • Ice Cold Lemonade-Grade 8 responses (From Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 2)
  • Ice Cold Lemonade- Grade 11 responses (Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 2)
  • Baby Mice- Grades 7 and 8 (Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 2)
  • Iron Bar- Grades 10 and 11 (Uncovering Student Ideas in Science- Volume 4)
  • No More Plants- Grade 5 (Uncovering Student Ideas in Life Science- Volume 1)


CROSSWALKS TO SUMMATIVE ITEMS- The AAAS Project 2061 Assessment Project has banked over 600 middle and high school items that assess key ideas in science and can be used to uncover common misconceptions. These are excellent items to use summatively (as well as formatively) after using the formative assessment probes. They are an excellent resource for linking formatiuve and summative assessment (e.g. pre-assessment with a probe; post-assessment with a AAAS/P2061 item). Crosswalks have been developed between the AAAS/P2061 assessment items, the Uncovering Student Ideas Probe, and a CTS topic guide. These will be updated each time a new USI volume is published.


Instructional Planning Guide for Formative Assessment- This planning guide is designed to be used with the SAIL Cycle to help teachers be more purposeful about planning for formative assessment- see pages 18-25 in Science Formative Assessment (Keeley, 2008). The planning guide helps teachers identify the stage in instruction in which they use a formative assessment strategy, the probe or FACT (strategy) they plan to use at that stage, why that strategy is used (purpose), how it will be used (format and classroom configuration), where it will be used (which lesson and where in the lesson), and how the data will be collected and analyzed.


25 Suggestions for Leading Professional Development on Science or Mathematics Formative Assessment- This handout provides 25 suggestions for professional developers or teacher leaders interested in furthering teachers' use of formative assessment. These strategies go beyond the workshop model of professional development and include a variety of embdded PD strategies. Suggestions include PD for individuals or groups.

EVERYDAY SCIENCE MYSTERY STORIES- This award winning series of four books, authored by my good friend Dick Konicek-Moran, is a nice companion to the USI probes. The stories present a mystery about everyday phenomena that encourage students to uncover and explore their own ideas through inquiry and discover their own ending to the story. The USI probes can be used as an elicitation prior to the story and can then be followed with an Everyday mystery in the exploration and discovery part of an instructional cycle. The stories are also an excellent way to connect science with literacy. A Crosswalk linking the Everyday Mysteries, the Uncovering Student Ideas Probes, and the Curriculum Topic Study topic guides can be downloaded here.

The Kindle Question- Here is a question I used in teacher professional development to get teachers to experience a "juicy question" and promote thinking/argumentation in much the same way that students interact with the USI assessment probes. It is an interesting, novel question- beyond what we would expect students to know, and will certainly elicit much interesting discussion among teachers (and advanced students). Kindle Question- Version 1 or Kindle Question Version 2. Click here for an explanation from the NY Times article that led to the development of this probe. The explanation can be used with the Scientists' Idea Comparison formative assessment classroom technique (FACT).




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