Monday, February 1, 2016

App Smashed Presidential Rock Bands as Alternative Assessments in US History

James Madison, "El Matador"
With the Iowa Caucuses this week, it seems like a presidential post is appropriate. However, rather than focusing on today's potential candidates, Minnetonka Middle School West seventh grade social studies teacher Stephanie Battista recently had her students focus on the first five presidents of the United States. Her students were studying about the first five presidents in her U.S. history class. Rather than having her students take a traditional test at the end of the learning, Stephanie came up with an alternative assessment: she had her students do an app smash on their iPads using the camera, Pic Collage, Google Presentations, Schoology and Notability.

The assignment for the students was to imagine they were a manager tasked to make a rock band with the first five presidents of the United States: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. Students needed to come up name for the overall band as well as a nickname for each band member. Students also has to select an instrument for each president based on that president's role in history. 

Planning guide for Nate's project.
Students used PicCollage to combine a headshot of the president with the body of a rock musician and the chosen instrument. They placed this image into a Google slideshow along with the information about each musician. Students then presented this information to the class and explained their reasoning for choosing the band name, nicknames and instruments. This project required them to reflect upon their learning. It was a great way to combine critical thinking, use of technology, communication, and creativity. 

Below is one student's final project. Since Stephanie's classes are Spanish Immersion social studies, the example is in Spanish. (Minnetonka has an immersion program for students beginning in kindergarten. Families can choose to have their child be in Chinese immersion, Spanish immersion, or traditional English instruction.) The student, Nate, explained to me that he named the band Los Problemรกticos, which translates into The Problematics. He said he chose this name because the first five presidents "had a bunch of problems to solve as the United States was first forming." As students presented their final projects, they explained their reasoning for selecting the nicknames and instruments for each president with supporting evidence to demonstrate their understanding of the information they had learned.

The instructions for the project translated into English by the teacher.

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