Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Assessing Student Knowledge of Colonial Content

Below are some suggestions for assessing students during or after a unit on Colonial America.
  • Have students fill a manila envelope with primary source collectibles (e.g., text, pictures, artifacts) or other items relating to a specific topic from the colonial era. Along with each artifact, have students attach a notecard explaining why they believe that artifact belongs in the "research bag." On the front of the envelope, have students glue a one-page typewritten report on the front of their envelope.
  • Have students actively create an interactive bulletin board throughout the course of the unit. Some example bulletin boards may include:
  • Have students place primary source artifacts on the board as they learn about them. The board could be sectioned so there are places for information about travel, daily chores, food, etc. Students would label each artifact when adding it to the board. At the end, groups of students could use the board as a prompt for presenting oral reports.
    • Have students create a giant crossword puzzle. Save one section of the board for clues to the answers, and the rest for the crossword puzzle. Start with COLONIALAMERICA in the middle, placing each letter in a one-inch square. Label the first square "1." In the clue section, add a section for "Across" and "Down." Under the "Across" section, write "1. The period of time between 1607 and 1783." Have students add to the puzzle by writing their own clues (be sure to keep an answer sheet!) and drawing one-inch squares for each of the letters in their answer.
  • Fold two paper bags together "hamburger style" and staple the ends to make an opened book. As students complete lessons during the colonial era unit, have them write information about the content from each lesson on a page (or page spread) in their "book." They can glue on primary source artifacts or add self-drawn graphics about the content of the page and they can add cut-out artifacts in the pockets. You may also "file tabs" that fit in each of the paper bag pockets by cutting construction paper into a file shape that would fit inside the pocket (the tab facing out of the pocket). The pages may contain the following (suggested during a Colonial Williamsburg conference presentation):
    • Page 1: Write "A Day in the Life of a Colonist" and glue on or draw a relevant picture.
    • Tab: On the tabbed file inside the first pocket, have students write related vocabulary words. Use glue to add pictures to describe each word.
    • Page 2 and 3: Create a table with the words "Clothes," "Education," and "Housing" on the y-axis and "Gentry," "Midding," and "Slaves" on the x-axis. As students learn about each theme for each social level, have them fill-in the boxes. They may add pictures to support what they write.
    • Page 4: Have students write "Tools" along the side of the page and find tools from the era. They should cut-out and paste each tool on the page and label it with its name and one use. [Note: Students can learn about tools by clicking on "Trades."
    • Page 5: Create a T-table with "Master" on one side and "Apprentice" on the other. Have students contrast the two roles.
    • Second Pocket: Add one or more related primary sources (e.g., a document used to indenture one individual to another).
    • Page 6: Write "My Life" at the top and prepare 3-4 short biographies of different colonists, including adding their pictures.
The design for the booklet described above was introduced by Tab Broyles during her presentation at the National Council for Social Studies Annual Conference in 2008. Below are pictures of the resulting booklet made during her presentation.

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