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Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

This performance assessment is designed for seventh grade science students who are studying the interactions of
physical (abiotic) and biological (biotic) components of an ecosystem. This assessment will specifically assess the
student’s understanding on how various environmental and ecological changes can affect a marine ecosystem.
Students will use two GIZMOs from Explore Learning called, Coral Reefs 1-Abiotic Factors and Coral Reefs 2- Biotic
Factors. These Gizmos will allow students to manipulate the many factors (variables) in the marine ecosystem and
collect data on the specific changes. Students will be able to use the data table, and generated graphs to study the
effects. Gizmo is an online simulation which will allow them to explore the Caribbean Coral Reefs through their own
device. This simulation allows them to interact with an environment they would not be able to interact with in the

Students will be role playing as Marine Biologists helping a Caribbean snorkeling hot spot create an information
session for their tourists. Students will present to another grade level, who will act as the tourists. The tourist will be
encouraged to ask the marine biologist questions after their “informational session”. Therefore, the product of this
performance assessment is a multimedia presentation that can be used in a snorkeling information session.
Students will be using the explore learning coral reef gizmos to help them create their presentation.

Ohio Science Standard:

Taken from the Ohio science learning standards PDF found at the Ohio Department of Education website.

 Topic: Cycles of Matter and Flow of Energy

 Content Statement: In any particular biome, the number, growth and survival of organisms and populations
depend on biotic and abiotic factors.

Ohio’s Cognitive Demands for Science
Taken from the Ohio science learning standards PDF found at the Ohio Department of Education website. What is italicized is
what students will be doing throughout this performance assessment.

 Demonstrating Science Knowledge

o Requires student to solve science-based engineering or technological problems through

application of scientific inquiry.

o Within given scientific constraints, propose or critique solutions, analyze and interpret
technological and engineering problems, use science principles to anticipate effects of
technological or engineering design, find solutions using science and engineering or technology,
consider consequences and alternatives, and/or integrate and synthesize scientific information.

 Interpreting and communicating science concepts

o Requires student to use subject-specific conceptual knowledge to interpret and explain events,
phenomena, concepts and experiences using grade-appropriate scientific terminology,
technological knowledge and mathematical knowledge.

Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

o Communicate with clarity, focus and organization using rich, investigative scenarios, real-world
data and valid scientific information.

 Recalling accurate science

 Requires students to provide accurate statements about scientifically valid facts, concepts
and relationships.

Learning Objectives Specific to Science Standard

Students will….
 describe the abiotic and biotic components of an ecosystem and the relationship amongst organisms.
 use data as evidence to explain how ecological changes impact an ecosystem over time.
 propose solutions for how humans can help protect the coral reef ecosystems.

Essential Questions
 What do living things need to survive?
 What is the relationship between living things and their environment?
 How do changes in an environment affect the survival of living organisms?
 Why should we care about protecting ecosystems?

Enduring Understandings
 Systems are composed of parts that interact with each other
 Parts of an ecosystem are dependent on each other
 Changes in environment can affect the survival of individuals and of species
 Human activities can have positive and negative effects on the environment.

GRASPS take design

Goal and Role Your marine biologist team has been asked to prepare a new educational
informational session for A Snorkeler’s Dream tourists attraction that educates
tourist about the Caribbean coral reefs as well as how various environmental
and ecological changes can affect a marine ecosystem.
Audience Your target audience is a group of tourist (a different grade level) that go to A
Snorkeler’s Dream to snorkel.
Situation You have a two-part challenge:
Part 1: You will have to explore the organisms and interactions of abiotic and
biotic factors in your ecosystem. Then, you have to gather data that explains
how storms, temperature, pH, logging, sewage, and agriculture affect the reef
ecosystem over time, as well as data on the major threats to reefs: fishing,
disease and invasive species.

Part 2: Using your data, your team will create an informational presentation
that educates tourists on coral reef ecosystems as well as propose a solution
for how human’s can help protect the coral reefs.

Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

Product, You will create an informational presentation using Google Slides that includes
Performance, and the following:
Purpose  A description of the coral reef ecosystem: biotic and abiotic
components, and relationships amongst organisms (food webs/food
 How ecological changes affect a marine ecosystem: coral reefs.
o Provide EVIDENCE! This includes explaining the data you
collect and what the data means.
 Proposed solutions for how humans can help protect the coral reef

You will use the coral reefs GIZMOS to help you gather your information for
your presentation. The purpose of your presentation is to educate tourists
about coral reefs, how environmental changes impact the ecosystem and
propose solutions for what we can do to help protect the environment.
Standards and Your presentation needs to clearly educate others on the coral reef
Criteria of Success environment and how environmental changes can impact the ecosystem. As
well as provide actionable solutions as to how the audience (tourist) can help
protect marine ecosystems.

You will need to be prepared to answer questions about your presentation as

you will be presenting to tourists (a different grade level).

A Snorkeler’s Dream in Antigua is a destination hot spot for many tourists who are looking to snorkel in the
Caribbean. Prior to heading out to snorkel, tourists at A Snorkeler’s Dream, engage in an informational session
about coral reefs and the beautiful biodiversity within. However, they want help in revamping their information
session to include more awareness and education on the coral reef ecosystem, the effects of various environmental
and ecological changes on coral reefs, and ways that humans can help protect the coral reef ecosystems. Since you
are a marine biologist who spends a lot of time studying and analyzing the Caribbean coral reefs, you and your team
have been asked to create a new information session presentation for A Snorkeler’s Dream. Here’s the catch: A
Snorkeler’s Dream only needs one information session, and therefore they have asked that each team of biologists
present their informational session to the tourists and they will ultimately pick the one they like best to be their
information session.

Performance Assessment Plan:

In order to implement this assessment, students will need access to a digital device, have an explore learning
subscription, and access to google slides. The timing of the plans can be adjusted according to student needs that
are observed by the instructor during class time. Students will be grouped by knowledge of this topic, which comes
from data from previous lessons.
 One 40-minute class: Exploring the Caribbean Coral Reefs
o Students will get familiarized with what coral reefs are, the location of the Caribbean, what a
marine biologist is, and the history and background information specifically on the Caribbean coral
reefs. Students will be engaged through:
 whole class readings
 discussions about reading graphical data specific to the decline of the coral reefs since
 the Nassau grouper populations in the Caribbean
 short videos about the coral reef ecosystem to provide visuals

Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

 One 40-minute class: Introduction of Performance Assessment and using the Gizmo
o As a whole class, we will read the performance vignette and answer questions about the
assessment. Students will be introduced to the basic features of the Coral Reefs Gizmo. Students
will be provided the gizmo student exploration sheets (see pages below) and students will
complete the Gizmo warm up for coral reef gizmo 1 and 2. After completion of the warm up, the
teacher will lead a whole class discussion to ensure students understand the features of the

 Five 40-minute classes: Collecting data by completing gizmo activities

o Students will work in their groups to complete the guided inquiry student exploration sheets
provided by the Gizmo site. While using the Gizmo to work through each activity presented in the
exploration sheets, students will be collecting data by taking screen shots of the generated graphs
in their virtual space that they will end up using in their presentation. The activities in the student
explorations will guide them through exploring and answering the following (Note: the following
topics and questions come from the student exploration sheet provided by Explore Learning):
 Abiotic Factors:
 The Caribbean Reef Ecosystem
o How do different species interact in a healthy coral reef?
 Ocean Conditions
o How are coral reefs affected by storms, high temperatures, and acidic
 Land Use
o How do changes in land use affect reefs?
 Biotic Factors:
 Fishing regulation
o What are the effects of fishing on the reef ecosystem?
 Disease
o How are reefs impacted by disease?
 Invasive Species
o How do invasive species affect reefs?

 Four 40 minute classes: Creating their informational presentation

o Student groups will use Google Slides to create their informational presentation. Students are
encouraged to use their guided student exploration sheets that they completed while working
through the gizmo activities to help them create their presentation. During this time, students
may do additional online research to help them address and include all required components of
the presentation.

 One 40-minute class: Conducting an Informational Session (Presentations)

o Students will present their informational session to the tourists: another grade level class. The
tourist will be encouraged to ask questions to the presenters. Tourist will be asked to fill out a
review form about the presentations which will be used to select the “winning” informational
session for A Snorkeler’s Dream.

 One 40-minute class: Experience Reflection

o Students will write a reflection that incorporates the following:
 A commentary on the reviews they received for their presentation
 Responses to the essential questions in which they can use their experience with the
gizmo and their data to help them answer the questions

Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

Scoring Guide
Advanced Proficient Basic Below Basic
Interpreting and 8 points 6 points 4 points 2 points
communicating Student clearly and accurately Student explains abiotic and Student vaguely explains the Student barely explains the
science explains all abiotic and biotic biotic factors in the gizmo and abiotic and biotic factors in the abiotic and biotic factors and
factors in the gizmo and how the how the change impacts the gizmo and how the change how changes may impact the
change impacts the ecosystem. ecosystem. impacts the ecosystem. ecosystem.
Students explanation provides a Students explanation provides a Students explanation provides a Students explanation provides
clear claim which is backed up with claim which is backed up with claim which is backed up with a claim with little to no
evidence from the data collected in evidence from the data. The some evidence from the data. evidence to support the claim.
the gizmo. Each piece of evidence reasoning makes general The reasoning makes a weak Reasoning is missing or does
clearly links back to the claim connections between the claim connection between the claim not connect to the claim and
through reasoning. and the evidence. and the evidence or is missing. evidence.

Recalling 8 points 6 points 4 points 2 points

accurate science: Student clearly and accurately Student describes biotic and Student vaguely describes biotic Student barely describes biotic
describes all biotic and abiotic abiotic components of the coral and abiotic components of the and abiotic components of the
A description of components of the coral reef reef ecosystem. coral reef ecosystem. coral reef ecosystem.
the coral reef ecosystem.
ecosystem Student accurately describes the Student does not accurately Student does not accurately
Student clearly and accurately relationship amongst organisms. describe the relationship describe the relationship
describes the relationship amongst amongst organisms and/or has a amongst organisms and/or
organisms and provides and food vague description that is hard to doesn’t have any description.
chain and/or food web as a visual. follow.
Demonstrating 6 points 4 points 2 points 0 points
Science Student provides multiple Student provides a suggestion Student provides a suggestion on Student does not provide a
Knowledge: suggestions on how humans can on how humans can help protect how humans can help protect suggestion on how humans
help protect the coral reef the coral reef ecosystems. the coral reef ecosystems, but it can help protect the coral reef
Propose ecosystems. The suggestion is is not logical. ecosystems
suggestions based on what they learned Students information is based
through the Gizmo. solely around knowledge Student made up information for
obtained through the Gizmo. the suggestion.
Student obtains more information
by doing research to back up their

Student attempts to answer the

essential question: Why should we
care about protecting ecosystems?

Demonstrating 5 points 4 points 3 points 2 points

science Presentation is no more than 10 Presentation is within 7-10 Presentation is between 5-7 Presentation is less than 5
knowledge: minutes. minutes. minutes. minutes.
Presentation design is professional Presentation design is average Presentation design needs work Presentation design is poor
and includes many images of data and includes some images of and includes very little images of and distracting and does not
from the Gizmo that highlight data from the gizmo that clarify data from the Gizmo. include any images of data
information and patterns to results. from the Gizmo.
support interpretation of Presentation vaguely discusses
relationships. Presentation discusses all three all three components. Presentation barely discusses
components. all three components.
Presentation thoroughly discusses Students struggle to answer
all three components. Students are prepared and are questions from the audience. Students struggle to answer
able to answer most questions questions from the audience
Students are prepared and are able from the audience. or can’t answer them at all.
to accurately answer all questions
from the audience.

Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

A clear description of the technology students will use and how it will enable your assessment of their

For this performance assessment, students will use two main technologies: an online science simulation
(Explore Learning Gizmo), and a collaborative platform, Google Slides. Students will engage in the coral
reefs gizmo to obtain declarative knowledge as well as new knowledge that they will transfer to their
presentation using google slides. When students are working together to create their “information
session” presentation, they are engaging in higher level thinking and synthesizing. The information
students include in their presentation will allow me to assess their understanding of the concepts they
explored in the Gizmo which directly relate back to the learning objectives. The Gizmo and the student
exploration sheet will guide students to understanding how abiotic and biotic factors may change and
how the changes may affect an ecosystem. While the students are writing direct answers on their student
guiding worksheets, in their presentation they will have to take that knowledge and further explain how
ecosystems are affected using the data as evidence. Ultimately, in their presentations, they will be stating
a claim (which is a environmental change observed in the Gizmo), providing evidence (using the data
graphs, and tables in the gizmo), and providing reasoning which shows me if they can connect their
evidence and their claim using what they’ve learned during their exploration. Students may also engage
in individual mini research using the internet as they think of a solution that humans can do to help the
ecosystems. At the very end, students will write a final reflection that has them attempt to answer the
essential questions. This is imperative as it will make them think about the whole learning process and
allow for another piece of evidence when checking for understanding in the concepts.

A clear picture of your thought processes as you designed this PA (e.g., justification for your choices, your
struggles, questions you had. The six facets would fit in here.).

When designing this performance assessment, I knew I wanted to use technology that my students are
familiar with using, which is Explore Learning Gizmos and Google Slides. I’m grateful that my district pays
for the Explore Learning program because the simulations allow my students to study and conduct
science investigations that they may not be able to be do in the classroom, such as the Gizmo used in this
performance assessment. When doing Gizmos with my students, I have only had my students complete
the student exploration worksheet and then we would go over it. So I thought, how can I make gizmos
more than just another classroom activity? I wanted to design a more meaningful experience for my
students when using these online simulations, so I decided to create a performance activity and
assessment that will be done with my students in the next few weeks. This performance assessment
transforms the Gizmo exploration into an experience and allows my students to have a new role while still
being students. They are now marine biologists, helping A Snorkeler’s Dream create an information
session for their tourist. This scenario will not only engage them, but make the experience authentic,
especially when they present to “real tourists”, a different grade level. The design of this assessment first
has students obtaining knowledge by going through the student exploration sheet, which we can still go
over together as a class, in small groups, or individually. Their learning continues as they work together to
synthesize all the information in the student exploration sheet. When the students create an
“informational session” they will provide a description of the coral reef ecosystem they explored. This
includes the biotic and abiotic components, and relationship amongst organisms. They will also explain
using evidence, how ecological changes affect a marine ecosystem. Finally, they will propose a solution
for how humans can help protect the coral reef ecosystems. The Gizmo will provide them with the
information they need to be successful. While the Gizmo exploration sheet will guide them through topics

Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

of understanding, it will not simply give them the “answers” of which I’m assessing. Through their
product, their information session, I will be able to assess their understandings and mastery towards the
learning objectives.

While designing this assessment, I also considered the six facets of understanding, which are outlined
Facet 1, Explanation: One of their learning goals is to explain how ecological changes impact an
ecosystem over time. The Gizmo student exploration sheet will guide them through obtaining this
information, and then they will take that information, synthesize it, and explain it in their presentation
using data to support their claims.

Facet 2, Interpretation: During the Gizmo, students are interacting with a variety of different
marine organisms in the coral reef ecosystem. One of their learning goals is to describe the abiotic and
biotic components of an ecosystem and the relationship amongst organisms. Being able to describe how
the abiotic and biotic components interact, will allow them to interpret and come to an understanding of
why when one component changes, all of the other relationships and connections within the ecosystem
also changes. The ability to interpret changes will also help them propose solutions for humans in order
to help prevent changes in an ecosystem.

Facet 3, Application: Students are asked to take their knowledge and transfer it into creating an
information session. They are essentially using “knowledge effectively in new situations and diverse
realistic context” (McTighe and Wiggins, 92) by creating a presentation that tourist often times sit
through before an experience!

Facet 4, Perspective: Considering my students are role playing as marine biologists, they will have
an understanding of a real career, through exploration in the Gizmo. Students will have an understanding
as to why ecosystems need to be maintained and protected, as well as how they can be intruded on by
snorkeling adventures.

Facet 5, Empathy: Similar to the perspective facet, students will understand the reasons why
ecosystems are important, and how human activities or other environmental changes could potentially
have a negative impact on a healthy ecosystem. One of the essential questions asks them to consider,
“Why should we care about protecting ecosystems?”. Through a final reflection, student’s thoughts will
be observed.

Facet 6, Self Knowledge: As mentioned in facet 5, student’s will be required to write a final
reflection that has them answer the essential questions, reflect on the whole experience, and reflect on
their understanding and participation as a group member.

A self-assessment of your design. What would Wiggins say?

I believe Wiggins and McTighe would say that this assessment supports their assessment values.
By keeping the learning objectives in line, technology was used in a meaningful way for the
students, and the experience was authentic because they will get to actually perform their
information session. One of the most challenging aspects in this design was creating essential

Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

questions that were not totally content specific, but I think the authors would approve of the
essential questions listed. They are broad and remain “open and alive” in which they are general
enough that understandings can be transferable amongst other ecosystems (Wiggins, McTighe,
113). This assessment is also a classroom activity that incorporates all six facets of
understanding. Wiggins and McTighe present figure 1.4 on page 28 which outlines
considerations for each stage of design. After looking at the consideration questions, I’m
confident that my assessment contains aspects of a well designed assessment. For example, in
stage one, the authors ask, “to what extent does the design focus on the big ideas of targeted
content?” (Wiggins, McTighe, 28). The goals and content standards are clearly identified,
enduring understandings and relevant knowledge and skills are outlined, essential questions are
transferable, and provoke thought and discussion beyond the “right answer”. As for stage 2, the
authors ask, “to what extent do the assessments provide fair, valid, reliable and sufficient
measures of the desired results?” (Wiggins, McTighe, 28). My students are engaged in essentially
three learning and performance tasks: 1. Completing the student guided exploration gizmo
sheet, 2. Creating a presentation and 3. writing a self reflection. In all three of those tasks, the
teacher can collect data on student’s understanding. The rubric is aligned directly to the goal of
the presentation. Finally, stage 3 asks, “to what extent is the learning plan effective and
engaging?” (Wiggins, McTighe, 28). My students are role playing as marine biologists and are
tasked to create a new information session for a snorkeling company. They will be engaged by
the scenario and the opportunity to host their session in another classroom with a live audience.

Peer review information – name of person reviewing your PA and brief report on feedback you
received. Did you make changes based on suggestions? Why or why not?

The person who peer reviewed my PA was Kari Perry. Kari liked the assessment, and thought
that the required aspects to this assignment were provided. I was glad that Kari was able to
understand my performance assessment without being a science teacher. The last thing Kari
mentioned was my rubric. She thought the levels of performance were outlined clearly. Based
on Kari’s review, I did not make any changes because she did not provide any suggestions to
make. I anticipate that there may be changes after I actually use this performance assessment
with my students.

Technology Performance Assessment Rachel Thrun

Ohio’s Learning Standards:
 http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Science
Ohio’s Academic Content Standards-Extended Science:
 http://education.ohio.gov/Miscellaneous/Search-Results?q=extended%20science
Explore Learning, GIZMO: Coral Reefs 1-Abiotic Factors, Coral Reefs 2- Biotic Factors
 https://www.explorelearning.com/index.cfm?method=cResource.dspDetail&resourceID=
 Explore Learning Gizmo, Coral Reefs 1
o Student Exploration Worksheet
 Explore Learning Gizmo, Coral Reefs 2
o Student Exploration Worksheet