For centuries, people believed that we fall ill due to bad air, bodily imbalances, or divine intervention. In the 1860s, Hungarian physician showed that we fall ill due to invisible organisms called Microorganisms.
Why are we discussing this example, and how does it connect with our schools? It is to show that misconceptions are a part of learning. Every time a topic is taught, the history of learning shows that students will have misconceptions. If teachers can find these misconceptions, then they can discuss students’ ideas and guide them towards deeper learning. If teachers do not find these misconceptions, then students may only believe that they are learning. But, they may only be learning superficially.
In a school, teachers have a lot of topics to teach. Many times, teachers move on from one topic to another without making sure that the previous topic is fully understood. Like building the 1st floor of a building over a weak ground floor, then building the 2nd floor over a weak first floor, students keep building weak understanding from one topic to another before they crumble!
But what is the solution? How are 300+ schools improving the understanding of concepts of Science and Math? Let’s read on.
GEMS International School is located in Gurgaon. Despite being one of the best schools in India, the school reflected and realized that while children are scoring well in exams and many Olympiads, they should build a conceptual understanding as soon as a topic is taught.
The director of the school, Dr. Amrita Vohra, invited the Open Door team for a meeting. Together they realized that assessments should do more than just passing a judgment; they should help students learn better. Picture yourself as a student. If you took a test and scored 60/100, you should not be labeled as 60% on that topic. You should get a chance to improve.
Assessments should help teachers discover where students have gaps in understanding. Teachers should spend time on remediation, and then check how much they've improved. GEMS International School implemented Open Door’s Thinking Assessments program to work on this and grasp the concepts.
Before moving further, listen to what Dr. Amrita Vohra, COO & Director, has to say about the Thinking Assessment program in their school.
So, what actually is Thinking Assessments by Open Door, and why have 300+ schools made this program a part of their lesson plans?
With Thinking Assessments, Open Door provides formative assessments for science and math. The questions in Thinking Assessments are unfamiliar to all students and teachers but designed on the same topics that are taught to the students.
After each assessment, within a few minutes, teachers scan the answer sheets using their phone camera and find out a detailed report of the understanding. Teachers are asked to work on the misconceptions and are provided a re-learning assessment after a week to check an improvement in understanding.
The first step is the Learning Assessment test, an initial test at the school. It's designed to uncover any misunderstandings or gaps in what students know. This helps teachers find areas where students might not fully get the basics.
Here are the results at GEMS International School: we identified areas where students had some misconceptions, and we also measured how much they improved in both math and science.
For example, in Cycle 1 Math, the school teachers uncovered 33 critical misconceptions. With their effort, they were able to improve on 25 of those misconceptions. In Cycle 2 Science, the school teachers uncovered 38 critical misconceptions. With their effort, they were able to improve on 31 of those misconceptions.
How did this improvement happen? What happened after the learning test?
The Re-learning Assessment happens after teachers help students fix their misconceptions. It's like a mirror to see if you have combed your hair nicely. This step is crucial to check if the teaching methods worked in clearing up the learning gaps found in the first test.
A successful Re-learning Assessment means students understood the corrected concepts, and the teaching approach worked. It's like confirming everyone is on the right path to really understanding concepts. The relearning test involves questions from the same topic but with different situations to see if students have understood the topic well.
Because of the hard work of teachers and using Thinking Assessments at GEMS International School, we noticed many students got better at understanding science and math concepts. Here's the full score of how much students improved after we started the Thinking Assessment program in this school.
What if the school had not implemented Thinking Assessments?
Just think that if the school didn't have Thinking Assessments, students might have kept many misconceptions with them for a long time. They might have built weak buildings in classes 6 and 7 that would crumble in class 9 and 10.
Also, one notable outcome is that Science and Math teachers find a new interest in their subjects because of the questions in these assessments. The Thinking Assessments program not only focuses on students but also invests in teacher development. Teachers at this school found a new perspective on questions that helped them to clarify misconceptions through good thinking questions from the assessments. Listen to the Director of GEMS International School and what she has to say about how Thinking Assessment is making a positive impact on teachers as well.
If you're a school leader and want to improve how students learn, check out Open Door Education's Thinking Assessment program. It's been a success in over 300 schools, including GEMS International School. This program follows the idea of deep learning and can help your school reach its academic goals. It sets students up for a successful future.
We burned two papers: one glued to wood and the other glued to a copper plate. Surprisingly, the latter is not burning. Can you guess why?
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