But this picture just made my day:
We've been talking about this topic (can you guess what it is from our picture?) for about a week now, and I wanted to check in and see where my kids were in terms of understanding the process. So I gave each one a blank piece of paper, put a list of 6 key words (water, leaves, solar energy, carbon dioxide, chlorophyll, glucose) on the board and said, "Draw me a picture of this process. Be sure to include each of the key words, and be ready to tell me about your picture."
At the end of about 15 minutes we gathered together, and I said, "Okay - somebody get us started." One of my very outspoken girls hopped up and drew and labeled the sun in the corner. Then, a tiny little hand rose in the crowd. When I say tiny, I'm talking a little friend who is smaller than my coworker's 5 year old son. She doesn't talk and rarely participates so when I saw her hand I immediately asked if she wanted to add to our picture. She drew the entire flower you see in the middle of the picture, and as she drew the different parts her teammates were saying why they were important to the process.
After that I was pretty much out of the picture. She picked the next student to come up to add to our drawing, and the students were explaining to each other what they were adding, why they were adding it, and correcting any items that needed to be fixed. For example, the arrow for carbon dioxide first pointed to the stick person, but the kids (respectfully) explained why that needed to be changed.
Every single one of my students participated in this drawing in some way: drawing, labeling, explaining or discussion. They added many more things than the original 6 vocabulary words that were required, and just from quickly looking over their personal pictures I can tell that everybody has a basic understanding of this information, and many of the students understand how it is a larger part of the cycle of life. They also demonstrated that they understand how it's connected to the water cycle, our last topic. I didn't need to give a paper / pencil test to see that. I could tell just by watching everybody today.
So this picture may not look like much, but it definitely made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!