Checkpoints in the Science Classroom

By Kathy Reeves
01 December, 2016


I recently learned about a fantastic way to use disposable cups to monitor student progress during science investigations. I also learned that this idea has been in play for years and somehow I missed the memo. After a few minutes of being bummed that I didn't know about this teaching tip years ago, I decided to share it with you just in case I'm not the only one.

Checkpoints in any science investigation help keep your students on track, provide opportunities to encourage critical thinking, and allow the teacher to more effectively facilitate the investigative process. Checkpoints are identified by the teacher as places where student progress needs to be checked before they move on to the next step. I used the standard "Raise your hand when you reach point X." Raised hands work but aren't nearly as fun as this checkpoint tip using red and green cups.

 To use the red cup-green cup method of signaling, students place the green cup on top when they are working and place the red cup on top when they have reached a checkpoint.

Checkpoints_Plastic Cups labels.png

Teachers can easily identify the student groups that have reached a checkpoint and verify that they're ready to move forward with the investigation. This is an excellent opportunity to also ask probing questions:

What if...?

How do you know?

What evidence supports this claim?

What do you predict will happen next?

Is this the result you expected?


Checkpoints_teacher helping students work_cups_139406252.jpg

How do you monitor checkpoints in science investigations?

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