Recently I stumbled upon a series of videos called "5 Levels of Difficulty". In each video an expert explains a difficult concept in 5 levels of increasing complexity:
Check out a few examples of these videos below:
I was inspired by this video series for a few reasons. First, it reminded me how explaining a difficult concept to a novice and expert audience simultaneously requires deep conceptual knowledge and how listening to such an explanation helps to build simultaneous conceptual and mechanical knowledge of a concept. Second, it motivated me to reimagine how I assess my students.
Keeping the above in mind, for our unit on Cellular Respiration in my freshman Biology course, rather than assign a traditional topic exam, I decide to create a variation of the 5 Levels of of Difficulty videos shown above that will serve as the assessment for this topic. In short, students will create similar videos explaining Cellular Respiration at 3 rather than 5 levels of difficulty.
I am hopeful that this assignment will force student reflection on the conceptual end of Cellular Respiration during levels 1 and 2, and mechanical knowledge/application of content during level 3, as well as applications of the content during level 3.
I have embedded a document that explains the intricacies of the assignment. Click here (opens in new tab) to view the spreadsheet where student "3 Levels of Difficulty" scripts and videos will be collected.
cross posted at www.cyclesoflearning.com
Ramsey Musallam teaches science and robotics at Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa, California, with the aim of fostering inquiry-based learning environments fueled by student curiosity. He presents widely on sparking student curiosity and teaching with technology. Musallam is a Google Certified Teacher, a YouTube Star Teacher, and a Leading Edge Certified Teacher. Watch his TED talk here and read his blog at www.cyclesoflearning.com.