Student Led Assessments

My MYP 3 Humanities class recently finished a unit on the russian revolution. For the summative assessment, I proposed what I thought would be a fun and creative project. We would create an interactive textbook using i-author. The response was, well… unenthusiastic. The biggest complaint was that it would involve a level of technical expertise beyond the students’ current level. Fair enough. So, I asked, what do you all suggest? Here is their response:

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I had never heard of ‘Top Trump’ cards before. I’m told they are popular in Europe. Anyways, one of my students suggested they could create Top Trump cards for the most significant people and events of the russian revolution. They would include a photo,  a mini biography, and categories representing certain traits, with corresponding numbers for measure. For instance, in the category ‘Violence’ Josef Stalin would get highest marks. For the category, ‘Role in the Russian Revolution,’ Rasputin might receive average marks. You get the idea. As I hope you can see from the photo above, the final product was brilliant. The students grumbled a bit on the amount of time required to create the cards (all the formatting was done by them), though the level of engagement during the process, and the pride revealed at the final unveiling, was well worth the suffering.

On another level, this event marks a paradigm shift in my own approach to teaching. It has forced me to re-think what is meant by “student-led.” Previously I would give students several options, giving them the freedom to choose an option that best allows them to display their talents. Now, before assigning the options (which, let’s face it, is not “student-led”) I will consult the class on how they think the significant concepts discussed throughout the unit can be illustrated.

Ps. For those of you who would consider the Top Trump option. I assessed for criteria B and D, investigating and communicating. The format of the cards doesn’t exactly promote critical thinking– what does it mean to say Trotsky gets a 78 for “Unity.” That said, the students learned a lot in the process, and more importantly they continue to learn while playing the game with the cards they created.

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