Tuesday, January 26, 2016

An easy project that requires deep understanding

The best projects require higher-level thinking skills to complete.  Here's one that would be easy to assign, easy for the students to create, and would require them to demonstrate a deep understanding of the content.

The idea for this project was inspired by this tweet (https://twitter.com/usefulcharts/status/692106089400238080) from Matt Baker (@usefulcharts).  Matt tweeted this chart earlier today, what he described as "[t]he 5-second version of the #civilwar."
Embedded image permalink
I loved it!  Slavery (as shown by the person with a shackled leg) existed in the north but abolitionists (the thumbs-down icon) opposed it.  Slavery existed in the south where it was overwhelmingly supported (as shown by the thumbs-up icon).  That conflict resulted in a war (represented by the fist, lightning, fire, and two other icons) between the Union (the flag on the top) against the Confederacy (represented by the Confederate flag).  That itself resulted in the deaths of many Americans (represented by the crosses over the casket shapes) and, ultimately, to the abolition of slavery (shown by the unlocked ball and chain).

The key here, of course, is that the graphic contains absolutely no words!  That way, all the meaning and understanding is in the students' heads.  That's why I love this; to decode the images the student has to demonstrate clear understanding of the topic.

Here are some options on how you could assign a project like this to your students:

1. Show your students a graphic like this and ask them to describe it in a paragraph.  Have them describe each image in the graphic, explain what the image likely means, and then connect the images into a narrative.  (It should look something like the paragraph I wrote above.)  Each student response should have a title summarizing the graphic's main idea.

2. Show your students this graphic, but use it as an exemplar.  Then ask them to create their own graphic relevant to the unit you're currently studying.  For my students, because we're discussing Progressive Reform, I could ask them to make a graphic that shows how Progressive Era writers influenced reform on the state and local level, and how that reform ultimately influenced the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and then Woodrow Wilson.

3. On the day your student-created graphics were turned in, shuffle them and hand them out to your students.  Ask them to write a paragraph that explains the classmates' graphic.


doah54 said...

What would be an alternate assignment for students that were blind or visually impaired and couldn't see the graphics to interpret them?

Kwizgiver said...

This is awesome! Thank you for sharing the idea.

Anonymous said...

How could you do this for the American Revolution?

Anonymous said...

VI students - use clay/play-doh, or give them those fuzzy stickers w/ different shapes.
Amer. Rev- Loyalist v Patriots

Anonymous said...

VI students - use clay/play-doh, or give them those fuzzy stickers w/ different shapes.
Amer. Rev- Loyalist v Patriots