Alternative Summative Assessment

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This year I tried something new with my students, although that is nothing new for me. I’ve never given a standard exam as a summative assessment; instead, I favor semester-long projects. This year’s semester project for my US History students was two-fold:

  • complete a timeline, which compared the eras of exploration and colonization of America through the American Civil War, to biblical and modern-day (so as to illustrate how thematic patterns repeat themselves (Eccles 1:9) and,
  • complete an annotated bibliography on four topics of choice, each topic specific to an era in American history. For each topic, students were to gather five credible sources (a combination of both primary and secondary). Therefore, their final bibliography was to contain 20 sources, each critically analyzed and summarized.

This project required intensive writing and research, as well as an introduction into an alternate formatting style guide for research papers, Chicago (Turabian). Both sections of this project were to be built as the semester moved forward – and we developed our understanding of US history – with specific, built-in checkpoints where I and their peers evaluated their progress.

Outside of the information taught in class, this two-part project represents their body of knowledge gained in just five months of study. As you might imagine, these students worked very hard on this project. There were times during the semester that they thought they’d never get through, but at the end, a realization of accomplishment brought smiles of pride to their faces.

Here are a few examples of hard-earned, exemplary work.

US History Timeline

World History Timeline (Focused on the US) 3rd Period

USH Timeline

Timeline of US

US History Timeline1

Annotated Bibliography(1)

Annotated Bibliography

Combined Annotated Bibliography

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Mock Trial Meets College Application Video

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For the last two and half years I have been teaching the Mock Trial class at Desert Christian High School. A mock trial is an act or imitation trial. The mock trial program in Arizona teaches students in grades 9-12 about the law and the legal system by participating in a simulated trial. The program is an opportunity for students to learn about the law and the legal system from practicing attorneys; for teachers to work closely with attorneys to reinforce legal concepts in the classroom; and for attorneys to share their expertise about the law and their legal skills.

Last year I had the pleasure of teaching Miss Fennema, who loved the class so much that she enrolled again as a senior, helping teach trial strategies to our varsity and JV teams. She also decided to use the methods she learned in class to produce her college application video to Trinity College in Chicago, Illinois. Miss Fennema filmed this video in my classroom. I loved the finished product so much that I asked for permission to post it here.