We are currently in one of my favorite chapters of the year – the Constitution. I love it because it really gives me the chance to dive deep into a subject matter that impacts their lives every day. And we can use current events to study it, which is a bit harder to do with a topic like the American Revolution. This year has been chock-full of things to talk about: an election year, the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and many others.
But when it comes time to test on the Constitution I hit a wall. How do you test what the curriculum says when we spend so much time studying it from real world examples?
I don’t like giving them a multiple choice test that sounds like it was written by Sour Bill from Wreck-It Ralph: How old do you have to be to run for the House of Representatives? How long do Senators hold their seat? Our study has been so much more than that! Then I found a really great example of a more authentic assessment…
“Too Cool for Middle School”
Enter TooCoolforMiddleSchool’s blog post from April 2014. I found this a few weeks ago and loved, loved, loved her idea of using an acrostic poem as an assessment. You can check out her original post here, which talked about using an acrostic poem for the Industrial Revolution.
That’s the type of quiz I gave my students this year for the House of Representatives and the Senate.
They had to fill in eight things about the House and Senate using the letters “C-O-N-G-R-E-S-S.” Each letter had to match the beginning letter of the first or second word in their sentence, and the answer had to be a complete sentence.
Here are two examples of student answers:
The quiz took 15-20 minutes in each class period and some of them struggled to fill in their last two letters. With some gentle prompting to think of the requirements, leaders, etc., every student was able to fill in the acrostic in its entirety. Overall, the results were very positive. One student made my day with the answer “Orrin Hatch is the current President Pro Tempore.” I just about fainted when I saw that!
Have you ever tried something similar to this? Or any other kind of authentic assessment? Please share in the comments below!