Description: In 10th grade Modern U.S. History, students learn about the Cold War between the U.S.A. and the USSR. In my class, I choose to cover the entirety of the Cold War in one unit rather than dropping in on it through its 50 year history. As a result, the assessment I have traditionally done with my students in a timeline for the summative project. This time around though, I changed it to a digital timeline using a website called Timeline JS. The students go through the unit and use an organizer to select dates and events that are significant to the Cold War. The students need to do a few key things for this assessment: 1) they need to select eight key events from the Cold War that span throughout the time period of 1945-1991; 2) find media (images or video) that relate to each event; 3) explain why the event is important; and 4) explain how the event relates to the Cold War. I created a handout and rubric that was distributed to the students for them to use as they created their timeline. In addition to providing the students a handout and rubric, I also provided them with two models: one of the Google Sheet they had to fill out and one of how the actual timeline would look once they completed the assessment. The students would then submit their timeline via a Google Form that I had posted on the Moodle Assignment page.
Post-World War 2 U.S. was shaped by an economic boom, Cold War military engagements, politics and protests.
The end of the Cold War, shifting geopolitical dynamics, the intensification of the global economy and rapidly changing technologies have given renewed urgency to debates about the U.S. identity, values and role in the world.
Authenticity: The assessment is authentic in that it allows students to create a project that they can easily show to an audience. They are not being asked yes or no or trivial questions; rather, they are being asked to think in a multitude of ways that shows their understanding of the topic and ability to make connections to small and large themes. There is an open-ended inquiry and metacognitive aspect as they make these connections as well.
Reflection: Looking back on the project, I find myself wanting to make a few tweaks and also am really encouraged about some of the ways this form of assessing my students was great for them and for me. I would like to make it a little easier for my students because many of them became very lost and confused about how to publish their timeline and get it submitted. I would work to remove a couple steps that are not really necessary for them to actually complete the assignment well and are testing their ability to be computer savvy rather than their knowledge of the topic.
I love the component of having the students cite where they obtained their media from as this was a really nice refresher on components of digital citizenship and knowing where they are getting their information. I loved having the students create something and having it digital made it even easier for me to grade and send feedback to the students that was fast and applicable. I am really excited to try some other ways of having a digital summative assessment that gets to the numerous levels of learning such as this one.