This is part two in a three-part series on unique assessment ideas. While paper-and-pencil assessments have their place, children also need authentic, hands-on opportunities to showcase their learning. Here are a couple ideas to inspire you!
Part Two: 3-D Assessments
First of all, the word “3-D” just sounds cool. If you tell your class you’re going to complete a book report, you will be met with guaranteed groans. But, if you say it’s time to work on 3-D visualizations, that’s a whole different ball game.
3-D Shoe Box Diorama. Students LOVE to build miniature versions of a story’s setting. For this project, each student needs a shoe box and a variety of art supplies, such as clay (see recipe below), popsicle sticks, yarn, construction paper, cotton balls, dry uncooked grits (for sand!), glitter, miniature animals or cars, sticks and leaves, empty milk cartons (for buildings), etc. Tell students that their job is to recreate the book’s setting (such as Zuckerman’s farm from Charlotte Web) or a scene from history (like the Boston tea party or Native American dwellings).
First, have students list all of the details they visualize about the scene or setting. Then, have them draw or sketch the scene or setting on paper with as much detail as possible. Now they’re ready to begin creating their 3-D depiction!
Have students cover the outside of their boxes in construction paper (or you can spray paint them prior to the project). Allow several afternoons in class for students to complete their 3-D depiction. Then, have students write a paragraph describing the details of their setting; attach paragraphs to the shoe boxes. Finally, allow time for the students to share and/or walk around and explore each others’ dioramas. See if the finished dioramas can be displayed in the school’s media center, as well!
3-D Venn Diagram. Use this project to compare/contrast two topics, such as two different novels, two historical time periods, two versions of the same folk or fairy tale, two different cultures or countries, or two sides in a war. For this project (which can be done in groups or individually), each group or student needs a piece of art foam board. On the board, draw two concentric circles that overlap in the middle (a Venn diagram).
It’s helpful if students plan their project on paper, first, so have them draw a Venn diagram on paper and list the different components before beginning construction on their 3-D version. Next, allow time in class for students to visually portray the different elements of their Venn diagrams. For example, if they are comparing Sid Fleischman’s The Whipping Boy to the traditional tale of The Prince and the Pauper, they could build a castle in the middle of the circles, to show that both settings include a castle. Other elements might include characters, major plot events, and the moral of the tale. Each element should be portrayed visually; written captions are also a good idea.
Recipe for quick and easy flour-salt dough:
2 cups plain flour
1 cup table salt
1 cup water
Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the water, mixing to form a soft dough. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. Too dry? Add water. When mixed, remove from the bowl and knead dough for five to 10 minutes to make it smooth. Dough can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to a week before using. When exposed to the air, the clay will air dry in a matter of hours.
Unique Assessments Part Three (coming soon!): Reader’s Theater
submitted by Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.