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.