Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Authentic Assessment: Second Graders visit Hoover High School

Below is a guest post by one of Hoover High School's teachers, Sara Taylor. She recently hosted a day for second graders to visit her classroom so that they could be taught by high school students for part of the day. Talk about authentic assessment! Sara was so excited and proud of her students for the incredible job they did that day.... I asked her to write a blog post describing the experience so that I could share it with you. Enjoy!

Ocean Fun Day: 2nd Graders Visit Hoover High School Marine Science
by Sara Taylor

It all started with Open House – one of my student’s parents teaches second grade and asked if I would ever want to coordinate to have our kids work together somehow.  “Yes!” was my instinctual response at the idea, and visions of possibilities began flashing in my mind.  

After many drafts of figuring out the setup, the concepts, and logistics, I came up with something I’d never done before: a plan to host a second grade class during normal school hours, with all of my students and 2nd graders in one classroom.  Chaotic?  Perhaps, but we’ll give it a whirl!  Here’s how it went down:

The setup for the day was to have my students teach the 2nd graders in a station arrangement, staying with their 2nd graders as they moved from station to station.  Since the concepts were all things they had learned this semester, it served as a fantastic semester review for them.  

Here’s a list of the stations:
·         Why the ocean is important
·         Beach safety (stingrays, jellyfish, beach flags)
·         Sand from around the world
·         Sand experiment (how to tell if it has seashells or coral in it)
·         Beach in a bucket (beach discovery sort)

Stations where the students could touch the animals:
·         Seashells
·         Sea stars
·         Sea urchins
·         Hermit crab

The day before the 2nd graders came, I had my students visit each station to feel prepared for the next day and know what they would be teaching at each station.

As a pre-activity for the 2nd graders, I sent Mrs. Galey a brief PowerPoint and video clips.  I wanted to be sure that the kids had some pre-instruction on rules for touching the creatures to ensure they were handled properly, while also cultivating enthusiasm and excitement for the day. 

Here are a few slides:

As soon as the 2nd graders arrived, it was off to the races!  My students took the reins and started teaching right away.  The “little” kids got Ocean Discovery binders to fill in as they went to each station (which, by the way, they were so excited that they were able to keep them!).  When it was time for the bell to switch classes, I noticed some of the 2nd graders were sad to see their high school buddies go.  Several of the 2nd graders watched in awe in the halls as the students traveled to their next class.  When the next period arrived, the high schoolers took over seamlessly where the last period had left off.

It was incredible to see the high school kids so confident and enthusiastic as they taught the 2nd graders.  The 2nd graders were in complete adoration and eager to learn from the “big” kids.  I found myself being impressed and pleasantly surprised many times as I heard my students explain concepts accurately and enthusiastically.  Many glowed like I had never seen!  There were many touching moments when 2nd graders stepped outside of their comfort zone to hold a sea urchin, practice the “stingray shuffle,” or ask an inquisitive question to their high school buddy.
When they returned to their school, the 2nd graders wrote thank you letters to me and my students.  It was heartwarming to see how much they enjoyed the experience and learned.  I couldn’t resist reading many of the letters to my students, and the “awws” and expressions on their faces revealed that they were just as affected.

Chaotic?  Not nearly as chaotic as I had thought it might be.  The 2nd graders were very well-behaved thanks to Mrs. Galey’s magic, and the structure of the station learning provided authentic engagement for both levels of students.  All in all, an incredibly rewarding day for teachers and students alike!


  1. What an amazing example of collaboration and authentic learning. The pictures really tell the story! Thank you for sharing this great lesson.

  2. Amazing just like Mrs Taylor. I hope EVERY child will have the chance to learn in such a creative way.Share this blog with as many as you can.

  3. This is awesome!! Our schools would love this.