As we approach the end of the first semester, and middle school students begin looking towards a new trimester, performance assessments are on the minds of many. How can we know what students really understand?
If your content has any connection to physical location, perhaps you might consider allowing students to display their knowledge and skill through a customized map. Check the post below for a number of resources that will allow your students to examine the math of existing buildings, plot the course of a person’s life, or animate a story with words and pictures — all using tools freely available.
For drawing on maps quickly and easily
Scribblemaps.com allows you to draw on any map, whether it be one with roads, or with buildings, or only topography. Students can create accounts and save their work online, tweaking their creations both at school and at home. A sample annotation of the Cardinal’s stadium is above. Beyond marking up maps, ScribbleMaps can also generate blank maps (at least at the country level) that may be used in some curriculum areas.
For plotting the course of a person’s life
Whether real or fictional, the stories of people’s lives hook students into understanding and “living” the big ideas in our curricula. One way for kids to present their understanding of a life is through a map that includes primary source materials. Two websites have a host of examples of these sort of assignments, all built in the free tool Google Earth:
- Google Lit Trips – This site has a literary focus, with many, many maps that summarize a host of books. A recent example is a visual summary of The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
- Google Historical Voyages and Events – This site is devoted to a social studies theme. Categories include topics from world cultures to “History of Your Community” and personal ancestors’ journeys. A good place to start might be the projects in the “Historical Events” category.
Keep in mind that you will need Google Earth installed to view projects from the resources above.
For animating a story in words and pictures
A recent resource for animating the types of maps featured in the two sites above is Animaps.com. Animaps allows students to easily drop place markers, photos, and descriptions into a Google Map, and then animate each element to show up at a specific time. Similar to the trips and events that are described above, animations created with Animaps give stories a sense of space and time. The difference between animaps and the trips created with Google Earth is that with Animaps no software is necessary to install. Maps can be created and saved entirely online. Students can turn their products in by simply sending their teacher a link.
So, if you’re looking for a different take on performance assessment, and maps might hold some possibilities, give the resources above a look, or feel free to drop me a note.