A Semester-Long Project by “DJ Justin”

This year I decided to try something new (no shock there) with my US History students. As I have done in the past, I wanted to create a semester-long project with multiple check points – in “teacher speak” we call these formative assessments – rather than a standard, summative assessment. What I changed was the creativity options – teachers call this differentiated learning – for this project. This year, I offered my students a wide range of artistic options to show their understanding of the historical content covered in class.

“DJ Justin,” an amazing international student, took my artistic challenge and ran with it. I am so excited to show you his three checkpoint submissions: songs he wrote that discuss his personal interpretation of the content from our second-semester units. Go Justin!

Johny Johny (lyrics in PDF form)

Enjoy these final two submissions, which were provided in audio format.

Struggle (lyrics in PDF form)

A Dream (lyrics in PDF form)

WWII Presentations

For a deeper understanding of WWII, students were asked to create a Google Slide presentation on a WWII topic of choice and then relate that topic to America’s role in this global war. Here are a selection of stellar presentations!

These are examples of the slides you’ll find within the presentations listed above. A presentation of three to five minutes to the class was required, but every student had so much to tell their peers after their research that their presentation time wound up at least doubling for them all! I am so proud of their depth of learning.

Alternative Summative Assessment

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