Constructing Explanations and Engaging in Argument from Evidence are two Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) practices I have heavily emphasized in my classroom over the past few years. My immersion in NGSS professional development that focuses on these practices has allowed me to develop new ways to engage my students and assess their abilities.
I teach seventh grade in a selective enrollment school in Chicago. When I first started teaching, I used a traditional lab report rubric (Figure 1) to help scaffold the conclusion writing of my students. The rubric focused on the skills we had started at the beginning of the year, collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data, explaining data, and reflecting on the work done in the lab.
In the beginning, some students had difficulty explaining their data; they could only state some numbers or a qualitative change they had seen. As I reflected on their data, I realized they were providing me with a lab analysis that was still very surface level. The assessment structure I used also restricted the explanations they were making to lab reports, which happened only a few times per semester.