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Co-constructing Criteria? Try Developing an Acronym with Students

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In an effort to improve student responses to lab questions, Peggy, a Science teacher at Stratford Central Secondary School, developed a strategy for co-constructing criteria. Instead of creating a large anchor chart or poster, Peggy had students create what she calls bumper stickers. These are small pieces of paper that students will use as anchors, but keep in their notebooks.

Here are the steps Peggy used to co-construct criteria with her grade 10 Science class, followed by a short video of Peggy explaining the activity.

  1. Use an activity to create random groups or pairs.
  2. In groups or pairs, students brainstorm 3 or 4 steps or strategies that they follow when answering questions. Students use small white boards and dry erase markers to record their brainstorming.
  3. Once the group agrees on their criteria for answering questions, one group member transfers the steps or strategies to the blackboard.
  4. As a class, the students and teacher organize the information, grouping like ideas with like ideas, until they have distilled the criteria to 6 points.
  5. The class then comes up with a word for each point and they use these words to create an acronym.

Peggy’s class came up with the acronym SPLASH

S – Snap the question (identify the given and requested information)
P – No pronouns. Be specific.
L – Language. Use scientific language.
A – What is the question asking? Am I answering the question?
– Support my thinking with evidence like diagrams.
H – Use half of the question in my answer (wording).

Peggy explains her activity and SPLASH in this short video clip.