final assessments

As a school with trimesters, the first set of final exams is upon us.  Classes meet for two out of the three terms making the month of February totally quirky.  Classes end, finals are given, but the school year is not quite over yet, huh? As part of the school winds down, other classes gear up to start their second term. Balancing between the two is challenging. When I walk into halls, I often hear the infamous sound of the circus: Circus Theme Song.  Students run in and out of classrooms, teachers frantically search for time to meet one-on-one with students and I can almost image paper swirling through the halls and down the stairwells. No mater how we plan to manage the stress, reduce the workload, and help the students prep and organize for the finals, the stress and pressure hovers over the school like a dark cloud.

Finals in the history department are not traditional. Students do not come into class for a two hour sit down exam.  They are not asked to memorize dates, names, and events and then throw them down gracelessly onto a piece of paper. Rather, students are given a project to collaborate on which ultimately asks them to revise their course materials, remix their content, and use their own juicy brains to create something uniquely theirs within the parameters of the project. The first year of this assignment the student balked. Whining for the traditional sit down, they were reluctant to work on the project, to collaborate, and could not imagine that the time frame was enough to complete the task at hand.  Now, this project is a staple of the ninth grade year. Students look forward to their topics, believe in the power of collaboration, and are excited to "out do" their predecessors. While it is still hectic in the halls of the school, I like to think that this project is an oasis during an otherwise crazed time of year.

When they turn in their assignments after a  week of working together, they are so proud of their textbooks and I am so proud of their culminating work. It is always sad to watch this collective group of dynamic young minds "graduate" from our ninth grade history experience.

Your Task Step One:

  • Write a one-page essay for each perspective on the event/conflict assigned to your group: 2 essays per event/conflict
  • Provide evidence (examples) to validate your perspectives
  • For each analysis of the event/conflict, make a connection with current events
  • Each student is responsible for writing 4 of the one page essays. Put your name on the sections you wrote & title your document.
    • For the groups with 4 students in order to have each member of the team responsible for 4 of the one page essays you will include a 1 page Introduction to your textbook and a 1 page Conclusion to your textbook
    • Also, two of the perspectives will need to be 2 pages in length instead of 1 page
    • Then all students in the 4 person groups will be responsible for writing 4 pages of writing each
  • Read, edit, and help your group members so the textbook flows together

Step Two:

  • As a group decide upon a title for this collection of differing perspectives on major American events.

Step Three:

  • Create a, iMovie, Website,, etc.
  • The Presentations should be within 3-5 minutes in length. Every member of the group must speak.
  • Present the evidence, facts, and arguments to support your perspectives: articles, quotes, videos, maps, examples as you pitch this textbook to publishers.
  • Be prepared to answer students' questions.

Essential Questions: (Help you get started on writing each section)

  • How would your individual/group interpret the events and moments of each unit?
  • Which events would be most meaningful to your individual/group? Why?
  • Why would other events be skipped over by your individual/group?
  • What is your argument about the historical events you highlight?  How will you interpret them?
  • How can you connect the different events we have studied to a theme?
  • How can you present the different historical events we have studied through your theme?

You will present your textbook to the class on Friday, March 1 at this time you will also hand in to me your 12 page textbook.

Prepare questions to ask to the other groups about their perspectives

Assigned Groups, Theme, and Perspective: Group 1:

  • Unit 1: Empire & Colonization:
    • Motivations for Exploration: Spanish Conquistador, & English (Jamestown/Pilgrim)
    • The Louisiana Purchase: Napoleon & Jefferson
    • Scientific Management: Factory Owner & Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
  • Unit 2: Conflict
    • French & Indian War: Native Americans & Colonists
    • Causes of the Civil War: Abolitionist & Pro-Slaver
  • Unit 3: Government
    • Great Compromise: Virginia Plan & New Jersey Plan

Group 2:

  • Unit 1: Empire & Colonization
    • Mercantilism: England & New England
    • Manifest Destiny: The Donner Party &  James L. O’Sullivan
    • Immigration: Jacob Riis & Vanderbilt
  • Unit 2: Conflict
    • Boston Massacre: Redcoat & John Adams
    • Dred Scott Case: Dred Scott & Supreme Court
  • Unit 3: Government
    • Constitution: Federalists & Anti-Federalists

Group 3:

  • Unit 1: Empire & Colonization:
    • Strategies of Explorers: British Settler & Native America
    • The Gold Rush: Chinese Immigrants & Mexican Immigrants
    • Industrial Revolution: Rockefeller & Lowell Mill Girl
  • Unit 2: Conflict
    • Declaration of Independence: King George &  Continental Congress
    • Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln & Davis
  • Unit 3: Government
    • 3/5th compromise: North & South

Group 4: 

  • Unit 1: Empire & Colonization
    • Regional Differences: Middle Colonies & Southern Colonies
    • The Alamo: Santa Anna & Sam Houston
    • New Technologies: Eli Whitney & Slaves
  • Unit 2: Conflict
    • Battle of Fort McHenry: Francis Scott Key & British Soldier
    • Union Strategy: General Lee & General Grant
  • Unit 3: Government
    • Electoral College: Founding Fathers & Opposition Today

Group 5: 

  • Unit 1: Empire & Colonization
    • The Triangle Trade: Slave & New England Ship Captain
    • Trail of Tears: Cherokees & Jackson
    • Industrial Consequences of Civil War: North & South
  • Unit 2: Conflict
    • War of 1812: New England Interests & War Hawks
    • 54th Regiment: General Shaw & African-American
  • Unit 3: Government
    • Constitution: Strict Interpretation & Broad Interpretation