Evidence of learning

What does understanding of this central idea look like?

“Humans respond and adapt to the continual changing nature of the Earth”

Key Concepts: Change, form, causation
Related Concepts: Adaptation, movement

Lines of Inquiry:

  • How the Earth changes and continues to change
  • Why the Earth changes
  • Human’s responses to the Earth’s changes
  • How the different components of the Earth are interrelated

The summative assessment is an open-ended performance task: Students propose and explain a way in which humans could respond and adapt to the continual changing nature of the Earth in an area that has been effected by change.


This unit is taught in Grades 3 and 4 / 7-9 year-olds!





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7 responses to “Evidence of learning

  1. Jessica

    I am asking this, because in my planning meeting we are trying to get to the ground of this. But so far the discussion has been very slow, and I need different perspectives and input!

    Here is what we were thinking so far!

    – Students provide examples of previous learning (they are collecting formative assessments and learning in a journal): change in the past, how the change effected humans, how humans responded

    – Students provide examples of what people have done in response to change and its effectiveness

    – Students can explain why this change will happen again

  2. chiara

    I believe this is very good. What would you like to add and why? I believe that, as long as they add all the information that they collected so far – and I am thinking Protezione Civile here – this should be ok.
    I had this very interesting conversation with E. which explained to me what the man from the P.C. explain about earthquake – why and how it happens! That was evidence of learning for me – in a formative way, yes.

    • Jessica

      I want to make all the things we are looking for explicit, as you just did!
      – Students make connections to the learning opportunities during the unit OR to make it even more explicit: Students refer to the primary sources they encountered during the unit.


  3. Hi Jessica,

    If I had this unit I would start with the interconnectedness of Earth elements. Use mind mapping with students so the connection would not only be visible (e.g. how WATER influences plants, animals, people) but students would also see how the CHANGES in one triggers changes in others.
    I would also use Color, Symbol, Image strategy from ProjectZero- Harvard. I would do that to see how students think the concept of “change”. See the variety of their work and have a discussion with them.
    Then I would use the “corners” strategy – post papers on different corners of the classroom reading “WATER”, “AIR”, “PLANTS” etc (depending on your mind map). Allow students to group and use post-its to add to each paper. Leave them for a few days/ a week so they could add more as they inquire into changes.
    I would also use Cause-Effect Tree graphic organizer (a simple tree whose trunk is the cause and the branches are effects). Students should group according to one cause and develop the organizer.
    I would also use De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats – students would have already gathered some data so you can use them all (the facts, the dangers, the solutions etc).
    I would most likely use videos and visuals to prompt their inquiry and then use I See- I Wonder strategy. Also, an Anticipation Bridge technique could be used with them. I liked an used with my first graders a strategy I saw on Sam Sherratt’s blog- Human Continuum: students would line up in accordance to the importance of change (in your case) or the gravity of its effect.
    I hope this helps.

  4. kathy burtscher

    We will be doing a brand new unit in 2nd grade that is very similar. We are in Japan, so a part of what I will incorporate is earthquake preparedness, human’s responses to earth’s changes, how we prepare for the effects of changes.

    We are just completing a great unit on visual thinking and mapping (how we use them to organize our world), and one of the kids has brought up the idea of the continents moving around, all being part of a whole long, long ago, so we have a connection already to the idea of change. We’ll be doing this one in the early spring, so I am very interested in what you come up with for ideas.

    Our next unit (also new… we are a candidate school, so many new units to develop!) is on celebrations and traditions, and one aspect will be personal celebrations. We are using Byrd Baylor’s -I’m in Charge of Celebrations-, as a part of tuning in after the initial brainstorming. If anyone out there has done a unit like this, I would love to hear.

  5. nicpenny

    I do love the command: Discuss!!!, well okay! 🙂
    I love how open ended it is – there is a lot of scope for the children to express their understanding. Very cool. I think this would be a very exciting unit. I am interested to hear what criteria you gave the children?

    • Jessica

      Much has happened since then and in our planning meeting we came to the conclusion that the actual task was too big and too undefined. After all, we couldn’t come up with great examples as to what what would look like.
      We changed it slightly to:
      Create an advice document on how people should respond and adapt in case of a change event.
      The students took this statement apart, decided on how advice could be given (creating a poster, or a Glog -interactive poster-, using Microsoft PhotoStory to create an advice “film”, a leaflet), what advice it (and how this relates to perspective but also to our big ideas of change and adaptation). And they considered how people respond (empathizing and taking action as outsiders) and adapt (at the moment they are finalizing their inquiry into how people adapt, what can be done to (if at all) predict or prevent a “natural change event”.

      All this will come together in their summative assessment next week, the criteria they even set themselves. I will post about this in a minute (can you tell, I am writing reports 😉 )

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