Using the below lesson, choose an assessment strategy and apply it to the lesson listed below:
I think that the notion of centers would work very well for a unit on the 1920’s in United States History. During unit of historical study, centers work very well because they allow the student to interact with different aspects of the time period in order to gain a wider and more enriching experience as to what life was like back to then. The centers approach helps to generate greater insight into a historical topic because each center can represent a particular branch of the time period. This approach works for 8th grade students and the learning goal is to develop a critical thinking perspective and effectively communicate about different aspects of life in the 1920’s. Creating six stations, using the classroom, and if possible, the hallway and area outside of the classroom. Each station would represent a different aspect of life in the 1920’s. After visiting all six stations, students would be able to possess a more broad understanding of what it was like to life in the Jazz Age. I would feature the following six stations: Station One: Excerpts from the biography of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Station Two: Music of 1920’s Station Three: The rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920’s Station Four: Fashion of 1920’s Station Five: Gangsterism in 1920’s Station Six: Dances of the 1920’s These six stations will need to have different items present and for each station there has to be some exit type of assessment. Some of this can be based on exit slips, personal reflection, or pointed questions that lie in wait at each station. Students can form groups of three and can move as a group. Each station should take about eight minutes and there should be a two minute transition time. The teacher is facilitator and timekeeper, reminding students often of how much time they have and where they rotate to next. This will make the task last about three or four days. However, the time gained in students being self-directed and engaging with the content on their terms and in their own understand makes it much better than direct lecturing or instruction that might alienate students. The centers approach for the 1920’s works well with varied learning styles and approaches to content acquisition. There are centers that encourage critical thinking and reflective analysis. There are also stations that are expressive and energetic. Some are based on music and other stations are much more traditional in focus. We can also see this in the presence of intelligences, such as kinesthetic, musical, intrapersonal, interpersonal and existential.
There are a couple of paths to take when it comes to assessing students in a station rotation/ centers activity. I think that one particular mode of assessment could consist of having students develop reflective responses to what they observed at each center. This could look like the following questions:
- What did you notice at this station that was representative of life in the 1920s? Explain how this represented life during the time period.
- Based on what you observed in this station, support or refute the following statement: "The 1920s was a time period that was on the move, but going nowhere."
- Discuss your own personal feelings to what you experienced at this station.
These "exit slip" type of questions can be effective for assessment with a tinge of reflection. The centers approach to learning is one in which students drive the learning process, thus it becomes critical that their voice is included in any assessment piece.
Another part of the assessment on learning centers can be based on the information that students need to find in each learning center. For example, students could be assessed on how the Klan emerged in American Society, or what was significant about the relationship that Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald shared, or how the Marx Brothers were representative of the 1920s. These questions are targeted aspects of each learning center, elements that students have to find when they approach each station. An assessment piece can include these questions.
If one wants to construct an assessment related to metacognition, it might be good to ask students to contrast their experience with the learning center with that of a more traditional setting. In other words, the assessment here plays with the idea of a teacher centered or student centered learning experience. If students are able to analyze both and examine their own learning processes in each setting, I think that some real interesting insights about learning and content emerge. This helps the student to become stronger as both thinker and human being, goals that should be embedded in any assessment.