Using a Map for an Inquiry Based Learning Pre-Assessment: Natural Disasters

Our weather unit has been so much fun with a ton of hands on inquiry labs.  I wanted to share an activity that I used as we began our unit.  This is easy to complete in your classroom and tons of fun for your students.  What I really like about it is that you can use the activity as a pre-assessment of their basic knowledge without using a test.  Although I think graphic organizers like K-W-L charts are great activities, this map activity was different, and I saw a lot of engagement in my students.

Disaster Maps
A few days before I began our study of natural disasters I had students format a natural disaster map.  I divided my students into groups and gave each group a large world map and dot stickers.  I asked them to place stickers on the map to represent where they thought tornadoes, hurricanes and snow storms might be located.

We also placed a smaller version of this map in our interactive science notebooks and color coded it with colored pencils.  It was amazing to listen to the discussion and conversations my students had.  Their reasoning for placement is what I was really interested in listening to. It gave me a great idea of what misconceptions we might have going into the unit.  I gave my students about 15 minutes to place their dots, and prepare their justifications.  Each group was able to present their thinking, and we had a discussion about what we agreed and disagreed about.

Being on the Gulf Coast it was amazing to see that there were some groups who didn't place hurricane dots in our city or the Gulf of Mexico, some even had tornadoes placed in the Northeast, which rarely sees them.  This activity is a perfect pre-assessment for concepts!!  I had a really clear path as we moved forward, and was able to hone in on some key concept ideas that my students were lacking.

I would love to hear about other pre-assessment or inquiry based tools that you use in your classroom.  Thanks for stopping by to visit today!

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