Episode 015_Creating 3D Assessments with Brendan Finch



Struggling with creating NGSS 3D assessments? Meet Brendan Finch of Inner Orbit. In this episode he tells us his strategy for creating summative and formative 3D assessments and shares his most useful resources. He also tells us about Inner Orbit, an online program that helps teachers easily build and assign NGSS assessments.

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Show Notes:

  • Innerorbit is a website for teachers to build NGSS three-dimensional assessments, select questions, and assign them to their classes.
  • RocketLit is a product that customizes lessons to each student’s reading level.
  • Brendan starts his process with phenomena that aren’t easily explained, using sources like: NGSS phenomena and San Diego Country Office of Education - Project Phenomena.
  • It is great to reuse phenomena and ask new questions about it.
  • Pick one phenomena for your summative assessment and sprinkle the others as parts of lessons.
  • The Innerorbit team talked to about 200 stem coordinators, science directors, and science teachers, and department chairs about 3D assessments.
  • Inner Orbit use photography and GIF files to bring the assessments to life.
  • By the end of 2019 Innerorbit will have all high school science topics covered.
  • You can make one quiz with one phenomena and three questions or you can have three different phenomena with one question for each.
  • You can use the data to see what students are struggling with.
  • Students are taking the assessments online with questions that teachers create.
  • To teachers that are interested in using Innerorbit can go to Innerorbit.com and can try it free for a month, then it is $3 per student per year.
  • Innerorbit teachers teachers how to write 3D questions around their own local phenomena.

3 Key Points:

  1. Find a topic you geek out on for your anchor phenomena, s use evidence statements as check points for students and create mini assessments about those check points.
  2. There are many publishers out there making dubious claims about what 3D assessments look like.
  3.  Innerorbit provides clusters of questions with interesting phenomena that teachers can use to build longer assessments.


“One things that we look for in phenomena is a ‘when’ and a ‘where.’” – Brendan Finch.

 “Look at the evidence statement, and write questions that literally pull from the evidence statement.” – Brendan Finch.


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