I know, I know, I’m not being a good correspondent. The end of a busy election season, was followed by exhaustion, and preparation for report cards and parent conferences, which had a week for Thanksgiving plopped in the middle. But the wait is worth it readers (or at least I think so).
With Common Core implementation, there is an emphasis on non-fiction, having students write more, and student generated questions about the text. I know this may not be how the whole thing shakes out with the summative assessments, but I’m on board for the formative part. During this current unit, Ancient Civilizations, I’ve eschewed using the language arts text (Open Court), and doubled up on Social Studies lessons. For this week’s assessment, I had the students generate questions within their heterogeneous groups about the lesson on Mesopotamia we had studied, and send them to me as a blog comment (you can’t see them as I’ve left them pending queue). I had them use these flip-books for question starters.
Here is the short response test I made from their questions (correcting some grammar, etc.). Not all the questions worked out great. Number 5 on categorizing should have had a couple of the different groups we studied in this chapter, and number 3 about drawing conclusions led many to draw a blank as they were doing it, but most persevered and wrote something worthwhile.
Here are some of the better responses:
In answer to the question about how the United Lands and Sumer were related:
They were polytheistic, which means that they believe that there were many gods.
They had a ruler and they both had farms and had domesticated animals for farming.
On what motivates people in the United Lands:
The thing that motivates people in the United Lands is their ability to trade.
One student read the illustrations carefully to make sense of the question on categorizing the United Lands:
By levels: The lower levels on the streets, fairly wealthy people in houses , and wealthy people in the castles.
This was not perfect, or ideal, but it turned out pretty good for a first crack at having the students participate in the curriculum. The first time I do a totally new test format like this, I grade the test, but I don’t record the scores, because I don’t want to punish students as I’m shaking out the kinks and problems. Were I to do it again, I’d have fewer questions but ask for more writing (3-4 sentence short response).
Photo Credit: number 11 by ro_buk [I'm not there], on Flickr