Weather Instruments

Titles in this example emphasize some important components of the assessment process. Superficially, this assessment task is a simple matching task, but the teacher's professional judgment is still key. For example, is the term "wind gauge" most appropriate or should the more technical term "anemometer" be used? The teacher needs to decide if the use of either term places some students at a disadvantage. Teacher planning includes collecting pictures of weather instruments and ensuring that all students have equal opportunity to study them. A teacher who uses this assessment task recognizes that all assessments have strengths and weaknesses; this task is appropriate for one purpose, and other modes of assessment are appropriate for other purposes. This assessment task presupposes that students have developed some understanding of weather, technology, changing patterns in the environment, and the roles science and technology have in society. The teacher examines the patterns in the responses to evaluate the individual student responses.

[This example highlights some elements of Teaching Standards A, C, and D; Assessment Standards A, B, and D; and K-4 Content Standards D, E, and F.]

SCIENCE CONTENT: The K-4 content standard for earth science is supported by the fundamental concept that weather can be described in measurable quantities.

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY: Students match pictures of instruments used to measure weather conditions with the condition the instrument measures.

ASSESSMENT TYPE: Individual, short-answer responses to matching item format.

DATA: Students' responses.

ASSESSMENT PURPOSE: When used in conjunction with other data, this assessment activity provides information to be used in assigning a grade.

CONTEXT: This assessment activity is appropriate at the end of a unit on the weather in grades 3 or 4.


Match pictures of the following weather instruments with the weather condition they measure:

  1. Thermometers of various types, including liquid-expansion thermometers, metal-expansion thermometers and digital-electronic thermometers—used to measure temperature.

  2. Barometers of various types, including aneroid and mercury types—used to measure air pressure.

  3. Weather vanes—used to measure wind direction.

  4. Wind gauges of various sorts—instruments to measure windspeed or velocity.

  5. Hygrometers of various sorts—to measure moisture in the air.

  6. Rain gauges of various sorts—used to measure depth of precipitation.


EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE: Student matches all instruments with their use.

AVERAGE PERFORMANCE: Student matches familiar forms of measuring instruments with their uses. A student might mistakenly say that the thermometer measures heat or might not understand the concepts of air pressure or humidity. Students at this age cannot be expected to develop sophisticated understanding of the concepts of air pressure, humidity, heat, temperature, speed, or velocity.

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